The SEAT Alhambra has the perfect MPV format. At 4.85 metres, it is longer than its predecessor by 22 centimetres. Its width is up by nine centimetres to 1.90 metres, making it a leader in this vehicle segment. Height, on the other hand, has been slightly reduced - by one centimetre - to 1.72 metres. The new proportions create a line that is powerfully sporty.
SEAT Head of Design Luc Donckerwolke and his team faced the challenge of taking the MPV concept, with its voluminous space and cladding it in an emotional, engaging design. The team fulfilled its task brilliantly. From the very first glance, the new Alhambra is clearly a true SEAT, with sporty and powerful lines. Calm, refined surfaces shape its modern and youthful appearance. The tight and precisely parallel shut lines convey its technical precision and outstanding production quality while fine, almost imperceptible returns beneath the edges add emphasis to the exterior lines. The proportions harmonize perfectly - bringing enormous tension to the design with a minimum of lines.
The characteristic motif at the front of the SEAT Alhambra is the "Arrow Design" - a theme typical of the expressive SEAT design language. The trapezoidal radiator grille is framed with subtle chrome trim and bears a large SEAT logo. Its finely contoured black bars emphasize the vertical. Together with the distinctive, V-shaped contours of the bonnet and the low headlamps, the grille forms SEAT's trademark "arrow".
The powerful bumper design is dominated by large, three-dimensional air inlets with clearly defined edges. In the standard version, fog lamps are located in the outer air intakes. Together with the halogen headlamps, they come with an additional static cornering light function - illuminating junctions at speeds of up to 40 km/h.
The Style equipment line comes with an optional bi-xenon variant which delivers dipped and full beam from mercury-free gas-discharge lamps.
For the headlamps in the Alhambra Style, SEAT offers two optional state-of-the-art technologies - the Adaptive Frontlighting System (AFS) and the Full Beam Assistant. The AFS, which is reserved for the bi-xenon headlamps, incorporates dynamic cornering light and static cornering light. The Full Beam Assistant is also available with the H7 units. Using a sensor mounted on the base of the rear view mirror, it recognises other vehicles and built-up areas from their illumination and automatically switches between full and dipped beam.
A distinctive design element of the SEAT Alhambra is its side profile, with its steeply angled D-pillar and homogenous panel surfaces. The flanks feature subtle contours, providing perfect functional and visual integration for the large sliding doors. A powerfully formed horizontal character line runs above the sill, setting an accent along the flank to match the strongly defined, large wheel arches. LED indicators are incorporated into the wing mirrors.
The side windows are set comparatively low down, conveying a feeling of transparency and lightness, and offering passengers an expansive view. The Alhambra Style includes optional chrome trim around the windows. The standard-fit black roof rail - available in chrome on the Style line - is subtle and slender, blending smoothly into the silhouette.
The rear of the SEAT Alhambra is clearly structured. One of its distinctive elements is the large spoiler on the edge of the roof incorporating the third brake light. The registration plate is mounted beneath the large SEAT logo and the "Alhambra" lettering and set into a recess in the downward sweep of the rear hatch.
The large rear lights are a variation on the geometry of the front headlamps. They are split into two, with the outer segment on each side integrated into the D-pillar and the inner in the hatch. The light cluster narrows as it runs towards the centre of the vehicle. The internal components have a horizontal structure, their lines adopting a wave form and generating a distinctive image by night.
Bodyshell - stiff and safe
The new SEAT Alhambra has been created from scratch and one of its key improvements is the door concept. Instead of conventional hinged doors, the new full-size MPV from SEAT comes with two sliding doors in the rear. In the Style equipment line, these are available with electric operation. The bodyshell is aerodynamic, stiff, safe and light. Despite its format, the base version of the Alhambra weighs in at only 1,648 kilograms.
The new SEAT Alhambra comes as standard with two sliding rear doors. The doors are especially easy and quiet to open and close. Compared with conventional hinged doors, the sliding doors make access significantly easier in tight parking spots or garages. On opening, there is no danger whatsoever that the door accidentally touches the neighbouring vehicle or the wall.
The wide opening of the sliding doors offers plenty of room for climbing into the rear. Each door runs on three tracks, located in the sill area, the side panel above the wheel arch and in the roof frame. The upper track is built into a separate box that protects it from the environment. Both sliding doors come as standard with electric windows.
In the Style equipment line, these doors can be supplied with optional electric operation. They are triggered using either two buttons in the centre console, buttons in the B-pillar or via the door handles. The electric sliding doors can also be operated by remote control. They cannot be opened while the fuel cap is open and/or the rear window is opened.
Even the degree to which the electric sliding doors can be opened is individually programmable. Opening and closing can be interrupted at any time - a self-locking drive system holds the door firmly in place, even when parked on a hill or incline. Electric power assistance securely closes the doors - even in extreme cold. Electric child locks come as standard, with their controls located conveniently beside the driver seat.
In the interests of safety, SEAT has equipped the Alhambra with a sophisticated anti-trap feature. This is a computing function within the control mechanism - it compares the relationship between the electricity drawn by the drive with its speed. Should one of the doors hit an object while closing, it stops immediately and re-opens. If an obstacle is detected during opening, it stops moving. An acoustic warning is also emitted when the door is closing.
Aerodynamics and acoustics
The groundbreaking efficiency of the new SEAT Alhambra is the result of extensive technical refinement. One major success is the perfectly balanced aerodynamics. The large MPV boasts a cd figure of only 0.299 - a record in this segment and an improvement of five percent over its predecessor, which was already extremely good.
The aerodynamic experts started air flow calculations at a very early stage in the development process, the results of which fed directly into the design of the model. Engineers and designers embarked on a highly complex process of refinement encompassing a wide range of details. On the A-pillars, for example, an optimised gutter profile diverts air flow from the windscreen onto the side windows with minimal losses. This also keeps wind noise down and helps to keep the wing mirrors clear when driving in the rain. The mirrors themselves and their connection to the body were also developed in a similar fashion. As an option, SEAT can deliver dark tinted glass for the rear.
Aerodynamic criteria also played a role in the design of the sills. They improve the air flow around the rear wheels, which minimises the wheels' wind resistance. At the end of the vehicle's roof, the large spoiler ensures that the air flow separates cleanly and with minimal turbulence from the vehicle. The small spoilers and large panels on the vehicle's underbody are also designed to ensure that air flows smoothly along the underside of the vehicle, while at the same time effectively cooling the driveline components and brakes. The underside of a vehicle generates a significant proportion of its overall drag.
Alongside the 13 percent proportion of hot-formed sheet steel, a significant amount of the SEAT Alhambra's metal structure is made from high-strength steel. This material concept gives the full-size MPV outstanding crash characteristics - whether in a frontal, side or rear end collision or in a rollover situation.
In the event of a front end impact, the structures in the crumple zone in front of the passenger cell absorb a large proportion of the impact energy. The bumper cross member, made from hot-formed steel, also transfers the energy from an offset collision into both longitudinal members. To protect the passengers' feet and legs, the cross member in the footwell area is also made from hot-formed material.
The centre tunnel and the sills channel forces to other areas of the bodyshell. In parallel to the floorpan, the sidewall frame in the engine bay and the door frames form additional force distribution channels in the passenger cell. The hot-formed roof pillar, which extends well into the roof frame, further improves the stability of the safety cell.
In the event of a side impact, forces are channelled primarily via the sill and B-pillar - which are also made from hot-formed steel. The seat cross member located between the sill and the centre tunnel supports the B-pillar, directing forces into the tunnel. The diagonally mounted impact beams in all four doors distribute a proportion of the forces into the surrounding bodyshell. The new Alhambra also offers its passengers the best possible protection in the event of a rear end collision, where the large rear longitudinal beams play the leading role.
The new MPV from SEAT also exceeds all legislative requirements when it comes to pedestrian protection. If a pedestrian is involved in a collision with the car resulting in the head impacting the bonnet, there is ample crumple zone between it and the solid components in the engine bay. The wings are attached over compliant elements and there are also deformation zones around the windscreen crossmember. Foam behind the bumper crossmember cushions impact with a pedestrian's legs. In low speed impacts - such as car park collisions - major damage is avoided because the technical components at the front and rear are well protected.
In the event of a more serious crash the bodyshell functions in a precisely defined way, working with the restraint systems on board the SEAT Alhambra. These include seven airbags - the driver and front seat passenger airbags, two side airbags in the first row, two head airbags between the A- and D-pillars that deploy like curtains and a knee airbag for the driver that deploys beneath the steering column. Due to their design, the head restraints on the front seats minimise the risk of whiplash in the event of a rear end collision.
Sensors signal collisions early and reliably. These incorporate a very early response front sensor close to the bonnet catch, further sensors close to the airbag control unit located in the front tunnel area and acceleration sensors for side collisions integrated into the B- and C-pillars.
All seats on board the Alhambra are equipped with three-point automatic belts, with belt tensioners and belt force limiters up front. A further standard feature in the full-size SEAT MPV is the Seat Belt Reminder system (SBR) that monitors the belt catches on the front seats. If a seatbelt remains unfastened and the SEAT Alhambra is already in motion, it issues a visual and acoustic warning to the driver. In both the 5- and 7-seat versions, this system is also available on all seats. The driver then sees in the multifunction display whether the rear seat passengers are belted in.
The seats in the second and optional third row are fitted with Isofix and additional Top Tether child seat anchors. Also available for the second row are one or two integrated child seats suitable for children aged three years and over. The passenger airbag can be switched off to enable use of a rearward facing infant seat in the front.
Interior and luggage compartment - space and quality
The new Alhambra is a generously proportioned MPV - offering plenty of space for people and luggage. Its seating concept is all new and developed from scratch. SEAT offers a choice of layouts with either five or seven seats. When the second and third row seats are not required, they can be stowed in the vehicle floor with an easy-to-use folding mechanism.
A great deal of input from future customers was incorporated into the development of the seating and door concept. Children between the ages of six and 14, and their parents, were given access to prototypes, with their comments repeatedly providing inspiration for improvements - one example being the design of the operating handles on the backrests.
The second-row seats
Passengers in the second row sit somewhat higher than the driver and front seat passenger - almost as they would in a cinema. The large side windows offer them an unobstructed view. For the second row of seats, SEAT supplies a three-seat module as standard. The second-row seats can be slid front to back by up to 160 millimetres, while the angle of the backrests can be adjusted in fine steps. The seats offer longer leg supports and a higher comfort level than in the preceding model, plus seat height and headroom have been increased. To protect passengers from the sun, the SEAT Alhambra Style offers manually operated blinds standard in Style and as an option in Reference.
In the preceding model, it was still necessary to remove the rear seats in order to accommodate large loads but in the new Alhambra, they can remain on board thanks to the all new "EasyFold" system. Folding the seats away is simple, dealt with in just one simple movement.
One pull on the handle located on the side of the backrest is all it takes to fold it forward onto the seat cushion - the compact package then sinks forward into the footwell. The headrests can remain in situ. When the seats are upright but not in use, the headrests can be pushed all the way down so that they don't obstruct visibility in the rear-view mirror. In the Style equipment line, the rear-view mirror is self-dimming.
The third-row seats
The SEAT Alhambra with seven seats comes with a third row (2 + 3 + 2) that is mounted a little higher than the second row. Access to this row has likewise been significantly improved. The sliding doors open wide and the outer seats on the second row can be moved well forward.
The long wheelbase of 2.92 metres - eight centimetres more than on the preceding model - is best-in-class and makes for ample knee room. In the Alhambra, even adults can sit comfortably in the third row on reasonably long trips. The angle of the backrests can be adjusted in two stages. Pneumatic struts assist in folding the third-row seats - the seat cushion and backrest lay flat one behind the other on the load surface.
Regardless of whether one or both seat rows are stowed, the load surface is always flat. With only the third-row seats folded, the load surface, finished in high quality carpet, is no less than 1.3 metres long. To the height of the luggage compartment cover, the cargo volume of the 5-seat Alhambra in this layout is 809 litres. Thanks to an easy-to-use optional divider net that can be fixed at a variety of different points, the SEAT Alhambra can also be loaded right up to the ceiling. This takes the volume up to 1,339 litres in the 5-seat car.
If the second-row seats are also stowed the continuous, unbroken load surface increases in length to 2.10 metres, measured to the front seat backrests. In this format for maximum load space, the 5-seater offers no less than 2,430 litres of volume when loaded to the ceiling. The 7-seat version offers 2,297 litres. As an option, the front passenger seat can be folded forward to accommodate objects up to 2.95 metres long. One very convenient option is the electric rear hatch, available on the Style line. To activate it, there is a switch on the centre console and two buttons on the hatch itself - one is for opening and the other for closing. It can also be operated by remote control via a button on the key fob.
Similar to the optional electric sliding doors, the electric rear hatch also comes with an anti-trap device. The angle of opening can be programmed in order to avoid possible conflicts with low ceilings. When the hatch is fully open, the standing height available beneath it is 1.85 metres - more than enough for most individuals. The load height of the Alhambra is conveniently low at 67 centimetres, with access to the load area being completely level.
Standard features in the luggage compartment include a 12-volt socket, securing eyelets, bag hooks, a retractable and removable cover and stowage bins in the side walls; the 5-seat version offers additional stowage space beneath the load surface. As an option, SEAT can deliver its all-new cargo package. It consists of movable telescopic rails anchored to points along the upper edge of the side walls, and a net stretched between them like a hammock.
Alhambra customers who own caravans or horse trailers will appreciate the pivoting tow hook. It is released electrically via a button in the luggage compartment, after which the hook can be pivoted out by hand and locked into place. Versions powered by the TDI engines can tow up to 2.2 tonnes. The new Alhambra 4WD, meanwhile, tows up to 2.4 tonnes.
Cockpit - elegant and functional
The instrument panel in the SEAT Alhambra reinterprets the operating principles of the preceding model, with the key elements helpfully remaining in their familiar locations. The cockpit layout is divided horizontally, expressing the character of sporting elegance that marks the essence of the new Alhambra. SEAT engineers and designers dedicated their full attention to even the tiniest detail.
Quality and design
The selection and application of materials on board the new SEAT Alhambra convey an impressive level of quality and refinement. The surfaces of the instrument panel are padded using the slush moulding technique and finished in a fine leather texture. Discreet chrome-look frames trim the air vents and most of the switch units.
The decorative trim elements in the instrument panel and front doors gleam in one of a variety of surface finishes, depending on equipment level. All controls and buttons - illuminated in classic SEAT red at night - turn and click with exacting accuracy, precisely defined travel and quiet, but rich tones.
The centre console
The instrument panel is made up from an upper and a lower segment, separated by a trim element. The cockpit takes the form of a flowing wave - the centre console is stretched a little further forward, emphasising its sporty, ergonomic character. All operating fields located on it are higher and more ergonomically positioned than on the preceding model.
The upper section of the centre console is home to the audio, video and navigation systems available in the new Alhambra. The navigation system and the top-of-the-range audio system both feature a touchscreen display. Beneath the monitor, the large hazard light switch is located on the trim element, while above the monitor is a storage bin. On the Alhambra Style it comes with a cover.
The control unit for the air conditioning is in the centre zone of the instrument panel. Beneath it is a double row of switches, home to controls for functions such as the optional electric sliding doors and rear hatch. A second storage bin completes the centre console.
The parking brake is located on the tunnel in its familiar place between the front seats and actuated via a convenient button. The new electromechanical parking brake saves space in the cabin and enhances both comfort and safety. The "Auto Hold" function helps when pulling away, especially on inclines. It continues to hold the vehicle for a moment after the foot brake has been released. DSG Alhambras come with Auto Hold as standard. It is an optional feature for Alhambras featuring the manual gearbox.
Beneath the elegantly sweeping arc of the dashboard hood are the two large instrument dials for the new SEAT Alhambra - the speedometer and the rev counter. With their white lettering on a black background and with their red pointers, they are clear and easy to read. They are framed by a discreet silver trim. The fuel and coolant temperature gauges are integrated into the large dials.
In the centre of the instrument binnacle is the multifunction display, which presents key information and functions. For the Alhambra Style, a "plus" version is available with additional functionality. Standard in Style and optional in Reference, the multifunction display can be controlled via the three-spoke multifunction steering wheel - the associated switches are located on the upper spokes and are easy, effortless and intuitive to use. The steering column is adjustable for height and reach as standard.
The driver's seat is a key element in the balanced ergonomic concept - even long distance driving is relaxed and refined in the new Alhambra. The full-size MPV from SEAT offers comfortable seats that provide excellent physical support. As in the preceding model, driver and front seat passenger have a pleasantly upright seating position, but this time somewhat sportier and lower down.
The driver's seat is height adjustable as standard, with an electric lumbar support available in the Style line. In the Alhambra Style, SEAT also offers optional heated seats with 12-way electric adjustability and leather upholstery. Seat heating is also available for both the Style and Reference versions in the Winter Package.
SEAT conceived the new Alhambra for a life on the go - the active character of this full-size MPV includes a wide range of stowage facilities. They can be found in the doors, in the ceiling console, beneath the front seats, in front of the second-row seats and in the luggage compartment. Moreover, the cabin also incorporates either two or three 12-volt sockets, depending on the number of seats and the version.
The large stowage bin on top of the dashboard has a volume of 3.2 litres. The centre arm rest between the front seats is standard equipment in Style (optional in Reference) and can be adjusted for tilt and longitudinal position; it also contains a further stowage bin. The front doors incorporate holders for 1.5-litre bottles, while the sliding doors have space for 1-litre bottles. Two cup holders in the front and two in the second seat row complete the storage facilities for drinks on board the SEAT Alhambra.
Comfort - technology from the luxury class
SEAT offers a wide range of optional comfort technologies for the new Alhambra - from the three-zone automatic climate control, through the infotainment systems to the innovative Park Assistant. They bring the luxury of the top segment into the full-size MPV, underscoring its character as a refined long-distance tourer.
The SEAT Alhambra is fitted with air conditioning as standard. The all-new, manually controlled system boasts powerful performance combined with excellent efficiency. It also cools the large, lockable glove compartment.
The three-zone automatic climate control that manages cabin temperature in three separate zones - for driver, front seat passenger and rear passengers - has also been redeveloped from scratch. Every seat, including those in the third row, has an individual air supply. The new three-zone automatic climate control shows all key information in the display of the optional radio and navigation systems. If a setting is changed manually, it briefly shows a pop-up window containing information on the new status. The operation of the system even incorporates data from sensors on the position of the sun and humidity levels. By comparing air and window temperatures it can recognise when the windscreen is likely to fog up, only switching on the compressor when it is actually necessary.
SEAT delivers the new Alhambra with a range of optional assistance systems for manoeuvring and parking. The base version is the Park Pilot for front and rear - it works with ultrasonic sensors and informs the driver with acoustic signals. The next level up includes additional graphics displayed in the monitor. The third version incorporates a rear view camera on the back of the vehicle. The monitor displays its images as soon as the driver engages reverse gear. Superimposed guidelines simplify manoeuvring, while the graphic display can be switched on for additional assistance if required.
The top version in the new SEAT Alhambra is one of the most powerful and intelligent park assistance systems in the world - Park Assist. It works with 12 ultrasonic sensors, each with a range of 4.5 metres, which register the parking spaces at the side of the road and measure them in two dimensions. The driver activates the system with the touch of a button and with the indicator. To recognise parallel parking spaces, the Alhambra's speed cannot exceed 40 km/h, for perpendicular parking spaces the maximum speed is 20 km/h.
If a space is large enough, the Park Assist takes over the steering when reversing into the spot. The driver has only to operate the accelerator and the brake, assisted by visual and acoustic signals. Park Assist manoeuvres the SEAT Alhambra into parking spaces that are either parallel or perpendicular to the road both on the left and on the right. For parallel parking, the space must be only 0,8 metres longer than the vehicle - the system steers forwards and backwards in several movements as required. It provides the same assistance for exiting the parking space. Park Assist also manages parallel parking on bends, on kerbs and between trees and other obstacles.
The audio, navigation and sound systems
The SEAT Alhambra comes with a choice of three audio systems and one navigation system. Standard equipment for the full-size MPV is the SEAT Sound System 1.0, which includes an audio tuner, a single CD drive and four speakers. Standard in Style and available as an option for Reference, is the SEAT Sound System 2.0 with eight speakers, an aux-in jack and dual tuner - one tuner receives the programme, while the other searches for other stations in the background. Both audio systems can also play MP3 files.
The cost-effective entry level navigation system comes with the new SEAT Media System 2.2. It incorporates a 5-inch touchscreen with 400 x 240 pixels, a CD player, an SD card slot and a dual tuner. The navigation data for Eastern and Western Europe is pre-installed and the available map images include a 3D view. Destination entry - like menu navigation - is easy and logical.
SEAT offers an up-to-date solution for easy telephone use. A Bluetooth interface connects mobile phones to the GSM/UMTS antenna in the Alhambra, as long as they are equipped with the Hands Free Profile. Conversations are transmitted via the vehicle's audio system.
Drive units - powerful and highly efficient
For the Alhambra, SEAT offers five state-of-the-art four-cylinder engines - three TDI diesels and two TSI petrol units. They generate between 85 kW / 115 hp and 170 kW / 200 hp and produce up to 350 Nm of torque. All four powerplants combine direct injection technology with turbocharging - their interaction produces an overall package of sporty power and groundbreaking efficiency.
The engines in the new Alhambra are significantly more powerful, yet up to 16 percent more fuel efficient than the comparable engines in the preceding model. The 2.0 TDI with 85 kW / 115 hp and the 2.0 TDI with 103 kW / 140 hp consume an average of only 5.5 litres of diesel per 100 km. That equates to CO2 emissions of 143 grams per km - among the best in the full-size MPV segment. The TDI units are equipped with an SCR catalytic converter (Selective Catalytic Reduction). This sophisticated technology makes them among the cleanest diesels in the world.
All engines, except TSI 200 hp, come as standard with a stop/start system and brake energy recovery - both of which are from SEAT's Ecomotive technologies for the reduction of consumption and emissions.
The stop/start system and brake energy recovery
All the engines in the new SEAT Alhambra - the three TDI units and the TSI with 110 kW / 150 hp - use the very latest efficiency technologies. The stop/start system deactivates the engine at a standstill, when the gear stick is in neutral and the driver is depressing the brake pedal. When the clutch is depressed, an upgraded starter motor restarts the engine - quietly, smoothly and quickly.
The stop/start system, which can be deactivated by the driver at any time, also works perfectly in combination with the DSG transmission - in which case the driver only has to depress the brake pedal and then release it to restart the engine. Thanks to a very powerful and cycle-proof battery, the system function even remains active in extreme winter temperatures. The stop/start system cuts fuel consumption by up to 4 percent.
Brake energy recovery, the second fuel efficiency system in the SEAT Alhambra, recovers energy during braking and coasting using intelligent voltage regulation for the generator. This energy is stored temporarily in the battery and when the MPV then accelerates it flows back into the vehicle network. This relieves the load on the generator, which can frequently be operated on low voltage or switched off entirely. The power required from the engine in order to run it decreases and fuel consumption is reduced. Aside from these two features, a great many further technical components have been optimised for efficiency. The fuel pump, for instance, draws only as much energy as it requires for any given operating mode. This improved energy management delivers further consumption benefits.
The three four-cylinder TDI units in the Alhambra each have a displacement of 1,968 cm3. The common-rail four-valve engines are hi-tech power plants - powerful, cultivated and with groundbreaking efficiency.
New entry-level TDI with 85 kW / 115 hp
The new base TDI in the Alhambra generates 85 kW / 115 hp, with the impressive maximum torque of 280 Newton metres available from 1750 r/min. This gives even the entry-level engine variant, which is combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox, an impressive level of dynamics. The SEAT Alhambra's top speed stands at 183 km/h, it takes 8.4 seconds from 0 to 80 km/h and completes the dash to 100 km/h within 12. 6 seconds. Average fuel consumption also sets a notable benchmark at just 5.5 litres per 100 km, equating to CO2 emissions of 143 grams per km. With its 70-litre tank filled, the Alhambra has a range of close to 1,300 km.
The second performance level for the 2.0 TDI generates 103 kW / 140 hp and develops its maximum torque of 320 Nm from 1,750 to 2,500 r/min. It accelerates the full-size MPV with a manual gearbox from 0 to 100 km/h in 10.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 194 km/h. Yet its efficiency is not even a fraction behind that of the base model - this powerful engine, too, boasts an average consumption of just 5.5 litres.