Aston Martin is celebrating its 100th anniversary with the CC100 – but it’s not the first to do this…
SEAT Alhambra SE 2.0 TDI CR Ecomotive 140 PS: month 5
On fleet since: January 2012
Total mileage: 4,245
Official combined mpg/CO2: 50.4mpg - 146 g/km
Actual mpg: 40mpg
Costs: £0 so far
Pros: Practicality, space, solidity, size
Where we've been this month?
It's the summer holidays! And there can be few better cars for family days' out - and longer periods - than a large seven-seater. So we've been to genteel Frinton-on-Sea in Essex (below), some trips up the coast to Aldeburgh in Suffolk, back down for some sailing in Maldon in Essex, and even a cross-country solo dash by me to watch the Olympic sailing in Weymouth.
My wife even took it with some family members - but not me, fortunately - to the Latitude festival (above), also in Suffolk.
What do I like?
The ability to cross country - and indeed continents no doubt if we needed to - with such effortless ease. The 140hp engine ensures it isn't the fastest car ever when heavily laden with children and luggage, but you get there eventually and I've never really understood why people obsess over 0-62mph times in family cars such as this. The ability to cruise happily and reasonably economically at 70mph is much more important - and this Alhambra does that with ease.
On my long 200-mile run from Maldon to Weymouth I was on my own, and was impressed with the car's alacrity when so unencumbered by weight; even in overtaking situations on the A303, a road that is dual-carriageway brilliant at some stages - and lorry and caravan-prone single-carriageway nightmare at others.
The car just barrels along, and the cruise-control is a cinch to use; when cruise is spooled up, but not engaged, the desired speed is shown in light text - and text is emboldened when engaged. It is so easy to drive, belying its 4.85m length and 1.9m width. I averaged a most pleasing 45mpg on the Weymouth run too.
In the warm weather we've had recently, it is really cool to be able to press and hold down the unlock button the fob to no just unlock all the doors but to lower all the windows too. And walking away, pressing the lock button performs the opposite role - including closing the sunroof.
I've discovered yet another new cubby hole - this time a potentially useful drawer that pulls out from the bottom of the front passenger seat. One day I am going to count up the total number of secret compartments in this car...
I wrote last month about how the S-Max got to rule the sexy end of the seven-seater MPV market - and rule the sales roost - because of the absence of premium brands like Audi from the segment. I've had a couple of useful additions to this debate recently:
Firstly, my friend Harry brought his pre-facelift S-Max up to see us in Frinton, so we got a chance to compare and contrast the looks (see above). Certainly the S-Max is lower and sleeker, and does drive better.
Secondly, I was invited to interview Audi's global marketing boss and asked him about the MPV sector. His answer convinced me that Ford is unlikely to have the sexy seven-seat MPV segment to itself for very much longer.
A car as large and tall as the Alhambra is never going to be able to compete with the S-Max directly, and certainly in terms of space the SEAT wins hands-down - as the car has proved again and again this summer as filled it up to the gills with kit and kids. But the S-Max is going to get the dads' vote most days of the week.
What don't I like?
The children in the sun loved the electric doors very much - in fact so much they enjoyed trying to close the doors on each other. This isn't possible to do as the doors sense obstructions, but can still be scary for four-year-olds. You can shut off controls for the doors, though that can lead to problems too. A happy medium is yet to be found here.
Another gripe is perhaps unavoidable; the car is tall, so wind noise is quite a factor at motorway speeds, sadly. Otherwise the cabin would be truly serene - aside from children, anyway.
Finally, an especially large and high-velocity stone-chip ricocheted off the nearside top of the windscreen, leaving a nasty crater and a small crack - which means we will be booking in Auto Glass for a replacement screen very shortly.
What next for the SEAT Alhambra?
The end of the school holidays beckon - as does the return of the back-to-school grind...
Tom Evans is the managing editor of MSN Cars, and is currently the holder of the Guild of Motoring WritersEditor of the Year award. Follow him on Twitter @MSNTom
Engine: 2.0 TDI CR Ecomotive 140hp turbodiesel, six-speed manual
Performance: 0-62 in 10.9 seconds/ 120mph top speed
Power/torque: 140hp/236lb ft @ 1,750 rpm
Insurance group: 18E
List price: £26,605
Options fitted: SEAT Media System (includes sat-nav, with dynamic route guidance, 5-inch colour touch-screen, DAB radio tuner and SD card slot)(£625), park assist (£295), power tailgate and rear-doors (£995), Winter pack (£295), panorama pack (includes panoramic glass roof, with electrically opening front pain (slide/tilt), electrically operated sun-shade, 17" 'Kosta' alloy wheels, 'sport-style' comfort seats, black cloth and 'brushed black' door & dashboard decorative inserts)(£795), folding towbar with electric release (£645).
Price as tested: £ 30,255
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
MSN Cars' Steve Walker takes the UK's cheapest new car for a test drive to see if it's worth parting only £5,995 for.
Date 3 hrs ago, Duration 4:17, Views 75