This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest SEAT Alhambra (10-20) review.

Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

The original engine line-up consisted of a 1.9-litre TDI engine available with either 115bhp or 130bhp. This diesel engine has been used widely across the Volkswagen Group range in everything from the Audi A6 to the Skoda Fabia. It’s proved very reliable and economy is strong with 43mpg available. However, refinement is in short supply and it’s a noisy unit that clatters when revved.

In 2006 the more powerful version was replaced by a 2.0-litre TDI with 140bhp. This is a little smoother and although its 0-62mph time of 12.2 seconds doesn’t appear that quick, it feels sprightly and has plenty of low down pulling power – key when you’ve got a full load on board. In October 2008 the Alhambra Ecomotive was introduced. This uses the same 2.0 TDI 140 engine but thanks to changes in the suspension, engine management system and low friction tyres, emits less CO2 while economy is boosted from 43mpg to 47mpg.

The 115bhp 2.0-litre petrol feels weak by comparison to the diesels, but the 150bhp 1.8-litre 20V Turbo is lively and good fun to drive. A 2.8-litre V6 was available until 2005 but wasn’t popular due to its poor fuel economy. All models have a positive six-speed gearbox as standard, but from 2005 the 1.9 TDI has exclusively been available with an automatic gearbox.

The Stylance model (SE and Sport on older models) has a sharper drive thanks to its sports suspension and larger 16-inch alloy wheels. But on all models the steering is fairly precise and nicely weighted while body control is good allowing the Alhambra to resist rolling about when cornering. It’s not as nimble as newer people carriers such as the Ford S-MAX, but is nonetheless safe and easy to drive, whether in town or on sweeping country roads.