18.4.2019Seat Tarraco first drive
Seat has seen its entry into the SUV market been well received with its past two models - the Ateca and Arona. Both perform well and have proven popular with buyers, though now it's the turn of the largest model yet, the Seat Tarraco.
Review by Chris Lilly
You can pretty much predict what engines are available with the new Tarraco. Broadly, they consist of a range of petrol and diesel options, with power or economy the focus depending on your pick. The model tested uses an engine that is likely to be popular with prospective buyers. It's the VW Group's four-cylinder TDI diesel, with 150 hp available in this state of tune. Power goes through a six speed manual gearbox to the front wheels; it's all pretty standard large family SUV fare really and will be the pick of a good many drivers. There are a couple of petrols available with 150 hp or 190 hp, or a 190 hp diesel too, with a mixture of manual/DSG auto and two/four-wheel drive depending on specification. This one allows for a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds and a top speed of 126 mph. Both are par for the course for this type of car, with any more performance required catered for by the more powerful petrol or diesel options. The Tarraco certainly doesn't feel sluggish in this guise, as the low-down torque of the diesel helps get what is a fairly large and heavy car moving. Power is easy to access and you get the impression the Seat would only start to struggle when fully-laiden, climbing a hill, and probably with a roof-box and bikes being carried. If you're likely to be doing this sort of packing, pick the higher-powered diesel. Otherwise, I suspect the 150 hp TDI will be just fine for most.
Although pitched as a sporty brand, Seat has kept things a little more practical with the Tarraco. The steering is not as sharp as other cars in its range, nor is the suspension as stiff. This is all to the good, as the Tarraco is clearly intended for family-friendly workhorse usage. As such, the ride is comfortable over many a rough surface, and it's particularly refined on motorway runs. The handling hasn't been completely ignored however, and a little of Seat's driver's appeal has been retained. It's one of the better cars to drive in its class, and those that have a family but like their cars will be able to pick the Seat with their head held high.
The Tarraco is a nicely designed car in a sector that can trip up some manufactuers. The Tarraco is a seven-seat model, and having that added length to accomodate the third row of seats can make things look a little awkward at the rear for some rivals. There's no such issue here though, with Seat having made the Tarraco one of the most stylish cars in its class. It achieves that style without compromising on interior space much either. The third row of seats are best suited for children really, but those in the middle and front can sit in comfort. Boot space is impressive with the rearmost seats down, and still useful enough with them up. It can't compete with Skoda's Kodiaq in terms of outright practicality, but it's a nicer car to drive and look at, so buyers muct pick their priorities.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
There's not much to differentiate the Tarraco apart from much of the rest of the Seat range in the cabin - apart from the touchscreen infotainment system that is. The dashboard and centre console are fairly dull to look at but sensibly designed, logically laid-out, and with good quality materials used throughout. The steering wheel is a nice size and shape, and the seats throughout are comfortable. Nothing excels in its class, but there are no weak spots either. The new feature is the touchscreen that stands proud of the dashboard a little. It's a different approach from much of the VW Group line-up, and adds an air of prestige to the cabin.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The test routes didn't allow for a thorough test of fuel economy, but the official figures for the model tested are 47.1 MPG and CO2 emissions of 129 g/km. Having got a trip average in the low-40s MPG, I'd say the average fuel economy is about right, and certainly achievable with a bit more motorway work to let the engine stretch its legs.
Seat has revealed that a plug-in hybrid Tarraco is due next year, so we will have to wait until then for the greenest version of the SUV. Until it arrives, the model tested is one of the greenest options, with the Seat Drive Profile selector allowing Eco mode to be picked for reduced throttle response and other tweaks. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 34.
Seat's equipment pickers have made sure that a good level of kit is available no matter which trim you opt for. The Tarraco offers as standard 17-inch alloys, digital driver's instrument panel, rear parking sensors, 8-inch media system with smartphone integration, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, three-zone climate control, drive mode select, folding table on the front seat backrests, and keyless entry. Xcellence trim tested adds 19-inch alloys, LED headlights, sat-nav, leather sports steering wheel, Alcantara sports seats, park assist, keyless entry and start, rear view camera, and a suite of safety kit.
The market for seven-seat SUVs is a competitive one, with some excellent options. Peugeot and Seat stand out as value-for-money family workhorses, and now Seat can comfortably hold its own in the class. The Tarraco blends style, driving dynamics, and practicality, and is worthy of investigation for anyone in the market for a large SUV.
Model tested: Seat Tarraco Xcellence 2.0 TDI 150 PS manual
Body-style: Large SUV
Engine / CO2: 2.0 litre diesel / 129 g/km
On-road price: Price as tested £34,750
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars