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First UK drive: SEAT Tarraco. Image by SEAT.

First UK drive: SEAT Tarraco
SEAT completes its SUV line-up within three years, adding the seven-seat Tarraco big boy.

 



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SEAT Tarraco

4 4 4 4 4

SEAT complements the Arona and Ateca models in its SUV line-up with the seven-seat Tarraco flagship. Based on the same MQB-A long-wheelbase underpinnings as the Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, can SEAT's particular blend of sporty chassis dynamics and Iberian style tempt customers to go for the Tarraco, over and above some key rivals?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: SEAT Tarraco Xcellence First Edition 2.0 TDI 150 manual
Pricing: Tarraco from 28,335, Xcellence First Edition 34,750
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door seven-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 129g/km (VED Band 111-130: 170 first 12 months, then 145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 47.1mpg
Top speed: 126mph
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Power: 150hp at 3,500-4,000rpm
Torque: 340Nm at 1,750-3,000rpm
Boot space: 230-1,775 litres

What's this?

The SEAT Tarraco, the last piece in SEAT's three-part SUV puzzle (which it started in 2016 with the Ateca) and christened after the older name for the Spanish city of Tarragon - the Tarraco moniker chosen after the company held a #SEATseekingName event, inviting fans of the brand to choose the right word from a pre-selected shortlist. Although, as Avila, Aranda and Alboran were the runners-up, and all three begin with the same letter as the other two crossover-SUVs in SEAT's line-up, you can't help feeling that this was a kind of 'Boaty McBoatface' moment that SEAT would rather have not happened.

But we digress. The Tarraco uses the same Volkswagen Group underpinnings as its Skoda Kodiaq and VW Tiguan Allspace cousins, and competes against the same sort of seven-seat (5+2?) rivals from other manufacturers, too - such as the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Nissan X-Trail, Peugeot 5008 and, in its latest incarnation, the Honda CR-V with a conventional combustion-engine drivetrain.

Thus, a lot of what you'll read here about the Tarraco is familiar stuff: it has three engines (split across four power outputs and both petrol and diesel fuels), two forms of tractive power, two gearboxes and four trim-level specifications, to ensure a 16-strong launch line-up of derivatives; all models are seven-seaters as standard (five-seat Tarracos are offered in other markets but not here); there's a plentiful array of equipment and driver-assist safety systems on offer; and, as part of SEAT's recent marketing strategy in the UK, there are almost no cost options whatsoever - if you want more kit on your Tarraco, you have to step up to the next specification in the tree. The exceptions to this last rule are a space-saver spare wheel (110), tow bar pre-installation (120), tow bar pre-installation with hook (685) and a panoramic sunroof which is fringed with LED lights (960); this latter item replaces the overhead storage compartment.

Let us therefore put some meat on the bones of the above. All engines in the Tarraco are four-cylinder turbocharged units. There's the 150hp 1.5-litre TSI Evo petrol to kick things off, which is expected to be the biggest seller, followed by the 2.0-litre TDI with the same power output (and which will take the next biggest slice of UK sales). Then there's a 2.0-litre TSI petrol with 190hp, that output once again matched by a brawnier version of the 2.0 TDI. The six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive is the standard drivetrain arrangement, but you can have a seven-speed DSG with 4Drive 'Haldex' AWD if you like (on certain engines only).

Trim grades and prices run: SE, from 28,335-33,000, which comes with at least Front Assist, an eight-inch infotainment system, the Digital Cockpit instrument cluster, three-zone climate control and 17-inch alloys; SE Techology (29,345-34,010) adds to this with satnav, 18-inch wheels and dark tinted windows; Xcellence (30,425-36,330) upsizes the rims once more, to 19s, and also brings in Alcantara upholstery, keyless entry and a rear-view camera; and top-spec Xcellence Lux (32,150-38,055) goes an inch bigger again, sporting 20-inch alloys for the first time ever on a SEAT, as well as four heated seats (front two rows, outer two chairs), a 360-degree camera and front sports seats with leather trim. Ignore the First Edition and First Edition Plus specs, as they were time-limited 'bells-and-whistles' models which are basically Xcellence Lux cars plus the panoramic roof, and also expect sportier FR and FR Sport trims to be added to the range in the near future.

Right, that covers most of it. Save to say that the Tarraco previews SEAT's new design language going forward - note the differently shaped and more prominent radiator grille, the triangular LED light signatures front and rear, and that lighting strip across the boot - and the big SUV is a reasonably handsome thing to behold, no matter its specification nor wheel size. Inside, the digital dashboard is a nice touch and everything is well-made and functionally laid-out, although the Tarraco still has the climate-control panel from a Mk6 Golf to play with and we'd say the rear-most seats really are for smaller people only; boot space, by the way, starts at 230 litres, rises to 700 litres with row three stashed away and climbs to a van-like 1,775 litres if you fold 40:20:40-split row two down as well. As SEAT's most premium product, the only 'colour' you can have on the outside is Atlantic Blue metallic - the other six paint finishes (soft and metallic) are a variety of monochrome white, greys, silvers and black, although Dark Camouflage at least has a green-ish tinge.

How does it drive?

Proficiently and appealingly, albeit not in a ground-breaking manner. Indeed, SEAT says it has tuned the Tarraco's multilink rear suspension and dampers all round to suit its sportier brand ethos. And what this seems to pay off with is a brittle ride, certainly on the cars on the bigger 19- and 20-inch alloys. The Volkswagen Group's Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adjustable damping isn't offered on right-hand-drive Tarracos yet, so switching through the Drive Profiles of Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual (and, on 4Drive-equipped versions, Off-Road and Snow too) does nothing to the suspension. It just alters throttle, engine and steering response and so on.

Which means there's a continual, background bobble to the way the 20-inch Tarraco rides, a more muted shimmy to the models on 19s and a far more preferable - but still firm-edged - sense of control to the SE Technology on 18s. What's weird about this is that we don't remember the more opulent examples of the Kodiaq and Tiguan Allspace riding like this, so we wonder whether a Tarraco FR Sport might be a step too far. It would certainly seem, from our first impressions of the SEAT, that customers would be better served looking towards the lower end of the specification scale for the maximum amount of comfort.

Other than that, though, the Tarraco is fine to drive. Light controls and great visibility out in all directions make it feel smaller and more compact than its actual 4.7-metre frame, while the drivetrains offered are all suitably strong, smooth and refined. There's a very weird thing with VW Group products' throttle response at low speeds, though, which is particularly noticeable in the TDI Tarracos, and it's that there's a hesitance between putting your foot down and the car moving forward. It's not turbo-lag, of course, but if you need smart acceleration from the SEAT and you ask for it with a hefty clog of the throttle, you might be annoyed by the delay before the SUV accelerates sharply away.

Truth be told, we couldn't notice any traction or handling advantages to the 4Drive system, while the six-speed manual gearbox is a perfectly pleasant and slick operator. Having also struggled to discern any notable extra punch from the 190hp/400Nm derivative of the 2.0 TDI, we'd therefore say aim at the 150hp TDI front-wheel-drive manual Tarraco as an impressive all-rounder. The suppression of engine, tyre and wind noises on the biggest SEAT SUV is highly commendable and its ride comfort is good enough at open-roads/motorway speeds to make it a proficient long-distance family machine. Yup, it's another talented addition to the seven-seat SUV marketplace, that's for sure...

Verdict

We like the new SEAT Tarraco, as it's well-equipped, looks smart, has a good-sized cabin and a choice of healthy, robust drivetrains. However, it somehow doesn't feel quite as much of a 'first recommendation' choice in its class as the smaller Arona and Ateca stablemates are in theirs. Maybe it's just because the Kodiaq got in there first, but we feel the Skoda take on this large SUV format is slightly more successful than SEAT's attempt - mainly because of the differences in ride quality. However, for potential buyers who are interested in having a big people-moving chariot like this and who want a touch more flair in their exterior design, it will be well worth their time to check the Tarraco out.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 5 Apr 2019









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2019 SEAT Tarraco. Image by SEAT.2019 SEAT Tarraco. Image by SEAT.2019 SEAT Tarraco. Image by SEAT.2019 SEAT Tarraco. Image by SEAT.2019 SEAT Tarraco. Image by SEAT.

2019 SEAT Tarraco. Image by SEAT.2019 SEAT Tarraco. Image by SEAT.2019 SEAT Tarraco. Image by SEAT.2019 SEAT Tarraco. Image by SEAT.2019 SEAT Tarraco. Image by SEAT.








 

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