The Alhambra has been with us in some form or another since 1996. It must be said that its fairly pedestrian looks mean the car may have passed many of us by without us really noticing.
The latest model - leading up to when it was discontinued in 2020 - is identical in all but badge to the Volkswagen Sharan. And it can be yours for considerably less money.
While the styling might make this a car that tends to blend into the background, it does benefit from big windows all round and top-of-the-range models even have a panoramic glass roof that flood the huge cabin with light.
It does benefit from big windows all round.
What’s it like to drive?
This might be a car that looks distinctly van-like but the driving experience is definitely car-like. It seems to have a pretty low centre of gravity, so there’s none of the rolling around like a cross-Channel ferry in a gale that you might expect, even in the sharpest corners.
The steering’s very precise, although the rather hard suspension can send a judder through the cabin if you hit some uneven road surfaces.
The Alhambra is a big, wide car so squeezing it into tight parking spaces can be a little tricky. For back seat passengers, there are sliding doors to make getting out easy even when the car’s a little boxed-in.
The driving experience is definitely car-like.
Unlike some 7-seaters, where the third row of seats are really only big enough for children, this is definitely not the case here. The interior is properly huge, with plenty of space for everyone.
The driver sits up high with a fantastic view of the road, as well as great visibility all-round. The firm and comfortable driving seat is almost infinitely adjustable to get it in the perfect position.
The instruments are laid out clearly and logically and higher-spec models also come with a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen, which is functional rather than outstanding.
The first row of three seats already offers plenty of leg room and can be individually moved back to let longer-legged passengers stretch out even more.
Moving on to seats 6 and 7, these are fixed yet still have enough room to make even long journeys pretty comfy. The fact there are big windows all around also stops the feeling of being trapped at the back that other MPV’s can give.
We’ve already mentioned the sliding back doors and these help to make getting in and out much easier than conventional hinged doors might do.
Surprise, surprise! There are acres of storage space in the Alhambra. Even with all seats in operation there’s room in the boot for around 5 bags-for-life packed with groceries – very handy if there is a 7-strong tribe to feed.
Start folding the seats down and you’ll enjoy some pretty serious space. With them all down it could be time to go into the furniture removal business. Some models even have a front passenger seat that folds down flat providing a very long space indeed.
The car’s huge cabin also has lots of cubby holes and storage compartments for the sort of clutter that needs a home when you’re on the move.
Running costs and reliability
There are a range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from. If you’re planning to drive fully-loaded the engine that combines the power you’ll need with reasonable economy is the 2-litre diesel. This can give you up to 44 mpg on average, not bad for a heavy car like the Alhambra.
Because many of the parts are shared with the Volkswagen Sharan you can be reasonably confident that they won’t fail on you.
What cinch loves
If you’re on the lookout for a genuine 7-seater on a budget, then the Alhambra could well be the car for you. It might not have the VW badge but it’s a Sharan in all but name with all the quality and reliability that suggests.