There’s a famous scene in Aliens where the crew stand in an empty room panicking as their proximity sensors go haywire, insisting there’s something right on top of them.
My family haven’t been devoured by xenomorphs but I was reminded of that scene on a recent detour down a narrow B road. Every time another vehicle came towards us and I moved towards the verge there was a relentless cacophony of beeps getting more and more urgent as the “danger” approached.
At no point was I in any danger of hitting a) any foliage or b) another car but the Alhambra’s multitude of sensors seemed to think otherwise. They’re definitely over-sensitive, which can make straightforward manoeuvres into a bit of a palaver, but in a tight multi-storey car park they do help avoid pranging the big bus on anything.
On the open road
Partly the sensors are useful because when you’re on the open road it’s easy to forget just how big the Alhambra is.
It’s hardly sporty but the steering is light and quick, body roll isn’t anywhere near what you might expect from such a tall vehicle and it feels no more difficult or unwieldy to drive than a mid-sized SUV.
Our car comes with the optional dynamic chassis control. This allows you to select between normal, comfort and sport settings that alter the sharpness and firmness of the ride. There is a noticeable difference between sport and comfort, with each definitely moving the ride in one direction or the other. However, there’s nothing wrong with good old “normal” and, personally, I’d untick that option box and put the £935 towards a holiday.
I’d probably also skip the £150 Full Link option, good as it is. This gives you the choice of full Android Auto, Apple CarPlay or Mirrorlink phone connectivity. Android Auto was a bit fiddly to get set up, perhaps down to my phone, but once it’s running it works well and opens up access to more in terms of music, mapping and messaging. However, for me the Bluetooth connection and inbuilt sat nav/media setup is plenty good enough.
Those aside, the Alhambra is packed with technology that quickly becomes indispensible.
Top of that list are the keyless entry/start and powered sliding doors and tailgate. They sound like unnecessary fancy nonsense but our family love them. In the seemingly endless process that is getting organised to go anywhere, being able to buzz the doors open from the house and order the older two to get themselves into their seats while you sort out the baby etc makes a small but significant difference.
In fact, the only thing that would improve them would be to add the “virtual pedal” found on other VW Group cars that lets you open a door or boot with the wave of a foot when your hands are full.
The top-of-the-range media/nav system fitted to our car is another highlight. It’s still one of the easiest to use on the market and gives DAB, every kind of connectivity you could want, touch and voice control plus quick accurate navigation that will offer to find the nearest petrol station if it detects you’re running low on fuel.
And little luxuries such as heated seats, cruise control and auto-dimming headlights add up to make the Alhambra a nice place to spend time at the wheel. Plus, with those extra-sensitive parking sensors you’re safe from any marauding aliens.
Find out more about our first impressions of the Alhambra here.