I?ve written previously here about Mrs D?s preoccupation with cars, and, more particularly, her deep-seated desire and need to buy new ones. I've refrained from writing about her latest escapade for almost six months now, but I can hold back no longer. It is getting on for almost half a year now since she had her latest brainwave and decided that the Honda CRV which he had only 18 months previously was really not for her and she desperately needed a new car. Of course, it went a little bit deeper than that. Some time before she had been in a little bump with another vehicle. It is a long story, but suffice to say, she decided to overtake a guy who didn't seem to know where he was going at just the same moment that a third driver started moving past her. The inevitable happened and she and the last guy came into contact. The first guy, oblivious to all this, had turned off, and was well on his way, leaving the other two to exchange notes and insurance details. She coped with things pretty well, but maintained that the problem was the visibility in the Honda and she simply couldn't see the other guy. This meant, of course (fanfare), that she needed to change the car. And what is more she needed to get an even bigger model to accommodate our screaming brats, despicable dog, mountains of shopping and the odd case or two of wine when we come back from one of our trips to France. She tried out a Renault Espace, but objected to the smarmy insincerity of the salesman. Then she looked at Seats, and agreed one deal with a garage. Before the order had been placed, however, she saw a better price at another garage and swapped deals, much to the annoyance of the first garage and a loss of £200 deposit (she?s so lovely and levelheaded). Anyway, enough of my marital complications and on with the plot? She had decid
ed that the Seat Alhambra SX 1.9 TDI was the one for her, and so we were off on another little route to the (loss of) loot. The Seat retails at around 18 grand, although you can always negotiate a deal if you?re prepared to haggle, and you always should on a new car, because there is always room to move given the mark up and the need for dealers to move the metal. There is a waiting period for delivery, as the cars are normally shipped into the UK from the continent, but thankfully it?s nowhere near the amount of time that you face with an Audi, as I found when I got mine. Talking of Audi?s, there are an awful lot of similarities between the Seat and the Audi, and I think it?s probably because they source many of the parts and items from the same place. Keys, cup holders, stereos, petrol caps, look and feel are all amazingly similar, and I don?t know if there?s any more to it than meets the eye, but there is a remarkable degree of harmony between the two makes, although Seat is a mile away still from Audi in terms of reputation. The Seat offers seven seats, five of which are removable, although it?s a bit of a bind when you?re trying to get them in because you can never seem to remember exactly how to do it, and it?s very fiddly. It always seems quite illogical that you?ve got to jam them in moving them forwards rather than hooking them in. By the time it comes ot perform the trick again everything?s slipped your memory and it?s a case of trial and error again. You can always replace one of the seats with the optional fridge, but be warned, half of it is hot and you can make a right pig?s ear if you get it wrong, as Mrs D did when she went off on a trip to France. Visibility out the back is a bit tricky if you?ve got all the seats in with the headrests attached, but reversing is helped by the
sensors and advisory bleep, although that gets very annoying when it operates and quickly starts to grate. The car itself is a bit of a monster, although it?s got pretty good acceleration when you really let it rip, and the engineering is such that you can?t really tell it?s a diesel, although it does judder at times. The Seat site (http://www.seat.co.uk/generator/su/uk/SEAT/site/main.html)offers ?Discover an MPV that's designed for the modern family. The family that's on the go 24 hours a day. One quick glance is enough to tell that the Alhambra is a very different breed of family car. Made for a dynamic breed of family. Seating up to seven people or offering up to 2,610 litres of luggage space, the Alhambra is as versatile as the most accomplished 'do-it-yourselfer'. Second and third row seats all tip forward, front seats (which include folding tables) can rotate through 180 degrees (optional) and all rear seats can be removed through simple, secure mechanisms.? Indeed, it does make a big thing of this as a car for the big family, and being an MPV you can understand why. It goes on: ?Usual retail on the road cash list price of Alhambra 1.9 TDi SX £19,265. Offer retail on the road cash list price of Alhambra 1.9 TDi SX £18,215 (equivalent to RRP of Alhambra 1.9 TDi S) includes delivery, number plates, Value Added Tax, 12 months? vehicle excise duty based on the CO2 emission level and vehicle first Registration fee as applicable at the time of supply. Metallic paint available at extra cost. VAT is charged at 17.5%. All price & product information correct at time of going live. Offer valid for vehicles sold and registered between 1st July 2004 and 31st December 2004. No cash alternative avai
lable. At participating dealers only. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions Alhambra 1.9 TDi SX measured in accordance with EU Directive 99/94. Urban: 34.0-39.8mpg / 7.1-8.3 ltr per 100km, Extra Urban: 51.4-62.8mpg / 4.5-5.5 ltr per 100km, Combined: 43.5-52.3mpg / 5.4-6.5 ltr per 100km, CO2:146-176g/km.? On the whole, the Seat Alhambra is a decent big people carrier, although it doesn?t really suit my tastes. Mrs D really likes it and is highly delighted with her deal, although I?m sure she?ll be changing her mind again pretty soon and be going for something else. I much prefer a saloon car, but as these things go, the Seat Alhambra is a pretty decent car, and worth the money. It feels a bit like a tank, and you quickly get the impression you?re driving something akin to a van, with the seating very high up. It?s a bit of a fiddle getting into the very back seats, because you have to work your way through the middle seats, and when you?ve got all seven seats in there isn?t enough luggage space. But then you can?t have everything, and there is quite a degree of flexibility built in. I don?t enjoy driving the Alhambra, although Mrs D adores it. It handles well enough and certainly goes, but I always feel a little apprehensive about manoeuvring it, especially in restricted spaces. It feels much bigger inside than it actually is, a bit like a Tardis and you always think you?re going to hit something. Not my personal choice, but a good car of its type.