It was in October 2016 when reports were published on the Ibiza wagon and the Alhambra threatened with extinction as victims of the SUV boom. The latest generation of the supermini launched in 2017 is only available as a hatchback and it seems that the other half of the report was also telling the truth. Coach learned from SEAT that the long-standing minivan will be out of service by the end of the month.
Launched in 1996, the Alhambra is in production at the Volkswagen group’s AutoEuropa factory in Palmela, Portugal and, although it has been around for almost a quarter of a century, it has only spawned two generations. The current model was launched in 2011 and has been discreetly updated in recent years with the aim of attracting what’s left of the minivan market in Europe.
2019 was not a bad year for SEAT’s movers, as sales rose 6.3% to 23,700 units, but it looks like SEAT thinks it’s still not enough to keep the minivan alive this decade. The Spanish brand is aware that those who need a seven-seater would prefer the mid-size Tarraco SUV, which added FR trim with a plug-in hybrid powertrain in the second half of last year.
The situation does not seem good either for the mechanically linked VW Sharan, as the multi-purpose vehicle built in the same factory in Portugal also faces the ax. Coach reports that although production of the model will resume after the hiatus caused by the coronavirus, the vehicle will not remain on sale until the end of the year.
The VW group’s minivan range has also lost the Golf Sportsvan, as the eighth generation of the compact sedan will not give birth to a larger derivative with more room for the family. We think that the Touran will also be deleted because these two models would be replaced by a new Variosport inspired by the crossover that we took as a test mule at the end of 2018.
Finally, note that VW launched a chic minivan from Viloran in China towards the end of last year, where it competes with the Lexus LM and the Buick GL8. It is a large minivan measuring 5.3 meters (17.3 feet) long, equipped with everything from executive seats with electric footrests to a high-end audio system.