SEAT Alhambra instead of VW Sharan
Spanish automaker SEAT has long been very well known on the highways of the UK. Unfortunately, it was mostly for the wrong reasons. Sure, their cars provided an economic entry point for drivers but the general perception was that in this case, cheap meant shoddy.
Roll forward a few years into SEAT operations under new owners the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG took control of SEAT in 1986) and SEAT cars were rapidly developing a minor cult following. Astute motorists who weren't worried about brand snobbery were figuring out that they could enjoy driving vehicles that were nearly carbon copies of Volkswagens and Audis, without the associated high prices.
In the early years when VAG produced Volkswagen, Audi and SEAT cars on shared platforms, the SEAT vehicles clearly saved money on things like interior trim but otherwise, they offers the same excellent drive trains, suspensions, driving experiences and, for the most part, build quality. The only downside, was not being able to strut from your front door to your 'superior' German car.
Lately, however, only the most ignorant people sneer at SEAT products. The Spanish cars have no problem whatsoever standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their siblings in the VAG group.
This means that SEAT cars also have no problem competing with vehicles from other car companies, either. In many cases, SEAT cars are vastly superior to a majority of other products in their relative market sectors.
Enter the SEAT Alhambra. The earliest versions of the popular SUV were, like their smaller stable mates, beset by a range of niggling issues and concerns, like iffy build quality, electrical glitches and questionable suspension tuning.
Today, however, the SEAT Alhambra doesn't even have to sell itself on its low price. So high are this magnificent seven-seater's levels of build quality, engineering expertise, design excellence and driving experience that it is now only slightly cheaper than the equivalent SUV from Volkswagen, the Sharan.
This might be one reason motorists shopping for a new Alhambra in the UK can't check the prices via the web. SEAT guides them to their local dealers, where they can discuss the exact pricing of their prospective purchase.
This makes sense, after all. It doesn't behove VAG to make it too easy for SEAT products to eat away at VW's market share. They would prefer to have a unified family of excellent products that attracts as many customers from other companies who are competing with VAG.
The bottom line is that if you buy the SEAT Alhambra today, you are basically getting a VW Sharan. The engines are the same, the transmissions are the same, the interiors are virtually identical, the safety levels and features are essentially the same, the driving experience is the same and the build quality is the same.
The only real difference is the fact that the Alhambra is slightly cheaper than the equivalent Sharan. For a cost saving that ranges between a few hundred pounds and about a thousand pounds, depending on the engine option and level of trim, drivers can enjoy the class-leading performance of a VAG seven-seater.