We have a 54 plate, 130hp Ghia with a manual gearbox.(Galaxy version). Had it about 3 yrs. Spent a while looking & looked at some real rubbish. Minicab drivers love them. The 115hp is ok with a manual box, but not so good with an auto box. Dont get me wrong, it goes ok but fully loaded it would struggle.
As a family bus it's simply brilliant as its just so damn practical. Loads of seat combinations, 4/5/6/7 seats. Can hold four bikes with wheels still on inside, & still have 4 seats in. Front seats turn 180deg, great for wet picnics & as a camping base. We have towed our 1500kg caravan up & down the UK & France with it with no issues at all. Everyday MPG is about 35mpg, & closer to 50mpg on a run.
They do have a few common faults... Drop links on the front suspension...if you get 2 years your doing well, but they are £15 a pair & take 30 mins to change. Electric windows are a pain...the loom passes into the drivers door & the wires crack & short out. Its not a difficult fix, just fiddly. They are heavy on tyres, & being reinforced they are a bit more expensive. I've just put two Kuhmo's on mine, at £84 each. They last (& grip) as well as any of the big names at 2-3 times the price. Being such a common platform (Seat/VW & Ford), parts are quite cheap. New discs & pads all round are less than £80. There is a clutch type pulley on the alternator that can stick, causing the belt to jump around, usually on idle. Its about £30 for the pulley & an hours work at most. They have a DMF like most modern diesels, but they seem a bit more robust than the Ford TDCi nightmare. The Turbo's can fail, but I don't think they are any less prone than most others. More difficult to work on due to the engine location & the bulkhead. What they do need is good quality oil that's changed regularly. Climate Control can fail, usually to a rusted through pipe down by the inter-cooler. Not a difficult job, just lots of bits to be moved to get at it. The advice seems to be to just leave it on Auto all the time. Doesn't seem to have any effect on fuel economy on ours, & its quite a well sorted system with cooling vents right back for seats 6 & 7. There is an additional diesel powered heater in the boot, for heating the rear compartment. Its usually the glow plug that fails, causing a bit of smoke. Rear wash wipe pipe can split under the passenger seat, so check for dampness.
Quite often the VW dealers are cheaper for parts than Ford.
Oh, & if you do buy one join fgoc.co.uk.
Its £10 a year & what those guys don't know about the Galaxy/Alhambra & Sharran isn't worth knowing. One of the regulars works at Stafford Audi & is a real top bloke.
IMAG1101 by pten2106, on Flickr