The new seven-seater Tarraco completes SEAT’s SUV line-up, slotting in above the compact Arona and mid-sized Ateca.
Closely related to its VW Group cousins, the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and Skoda Kodiaq, it’s arguably the best-looking, better-proportioned version, boasting SEAT’s trademark sharp lines.
Back in the day, you’d have to choose an MPV is you wanted to seat seven people, the Tarraco is the perfect example of a car offering sporty looks, space, a good driving experience and the practicality of an SUV and all-wheel drive (if you want it).
Priced from £28,230 to £36,545, there are four trims to choose from – SE, SE Technology, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux.
The engine line-up includes 1.5-litre TSI and 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol units with 148bhp and 187bhp respectively. There are also two 2.0-litre diesel (TDI) versions, with the same outputs.
The 148bhp TDI is the most frugal, with CO2 emissions of 129g/km and average fuel consumption of up to 47.1mpg, while the entry-level 148bhp TSI is the cheapest option and is arguably the best all-rounder for lighter, urban duties.
All-wheel-drive (4Drive) and a seven-speed DSG transmission are available with the 2.0-litre engines.
I tested the 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI with four-wheel drive and a DSG auto gearbox, capable of reaching 62mph in eight seconds and onto a top speed of 131mph. Claimed fuel economy is up to 31mpg, while CO2 emissions are 166g/km.
The Tarraco is well equipped with an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen (with MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), a 10.25-inch digital driver’s display, alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights and electrically folding/adjustable door mirrors are standard across the range.
Move up the trim levels and goodies including tinted windows, adaptive cruise control, a rear view camera, electric tailgate leather upholstery are among the goodies.
Awarded a maximum five stars by Euro NCAP after crash safety tests, the Tarraco standard features include autonomous emergency braking (AEB, though SEAT calls it ‘Front Assist’), plus lane keeping assist and automatic emergency call.
Inside, the first impression is one of space, especially in the first and second rows. Like most seven-seaters, the third row is slightly more challenging and best reserved for children, but it is possible to move the second row forwards so that adults can squeeze in.
With all the seats in play there’s a useful 230 litres of boot capacity, rising to 700 litres with the third row folded down and an enormous 1,775 litres with just the front seats in play.
The interior is attractive with plenty of soft-touch plastics – it’s also nicely designed and well put together, while visibility is good thanks to the extensive glass area.
Naturally, there’s a commanding driving position, while the Tarraco doesn’t feel as big as it actually is out on the open road.
With light, responsive steering it’s easy to drive around town and it cruises effortlessly on motorways, but it can also be surprisingly entertaining on more challenging roads especially in Sport mode (Comfort, Eco and Individual are also available).
Body roll is well controlled for a big SUV and it feel planted. The ride is mostly comfortable, if sometimes on the harsh side.
There’s plenty of pulling power from the refined petrol turbo and it feels swift enough. However, you will struggle to get close to 30mpg, so if you drive long distances on motorways, the diesel version might make more sense.
If you want the added traction offered by the 4Drive system, then it comes highly recommended. I tried a little soft-roading and there’s no doubt that it offers excellent amount of grip, though the system isn’t sophisticated enough to offer the go-anywhere ability of more hardcore 4x4s.
Finally, all versions of the Tarraco have a maximum unbraked towing capacity of 750kg, but the four-wheel drive models are capable of towing (braked) up to 2,300kg (diesel) and 2,250kg (petrol).
Other rivals include Peugeot 5008, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Kia Sorento and Nissan X-Trail.
Verdict: The SEAT Tarraco is a welcome addition to the seven-seater SUV sector. Handsome, practical, safe, well-built and generously equipped, it offers a surprisingly dynamic drive.