Long-term report: The Seat Tarraco arrives on the fleet with seven-seat versatility
Large Spanish SUV is bristling with clever features, but what’s it like to live with? Jack Evans finds out
It’s easy to see why SUVs are so popular. They’re large, spacious and comfortable while also being good-looking and remarkably competent to drive – in most cases, that is. But they can occasionally lose out on the personality side of things, and that’s an area where Seat usually does quite well.
That’s where the new Tarraco comes in. Based on the same platform that you’ll find underpinning the Skoda Kodiaq, it’s a seven-seater SUV which, Seat hopes, will offer up a bit more in the way of personality than other cars in the segment. We’ve got one to test over the next six months to find out if it has succeeded.
Off the bat things look good. The Tarraco is a stylish looking thing – though the all-white paint scheme has led us to daub it ‘Moby Dick’ – and from every angle it’s sharp and well-thought through. First gold star goes to Seat.
Then there’s the practicality side of things, which is paramount in a car like this. We’ve added rubber mats to ‘our’ Tarraco – they’ve always been a great addition to help with helping keeping things clean and tidy, and on a recent bike ride they proved their worth immediately. The best part is that once you’re done, you can take them out, hose them down and whack them back in again.
The boot space is superb, and with second and third rows flat you can get a full-size mountain bike in there without having to remove the front wheel, and that’s something few cars can offer. Fold that middle row back up, and the rear passengers have plenty of legroom while the seats can be pushed forward or back on rails – another handy feature.
Our car comes in XCellence, which is second from the top in the list of available specifications for the Tarraco. Options such as parking assist, Alcantara sports seats and keyless entry are all added at this grade though, sadly for this time of year, heated seats are omitted.
And then there are the 19-inch machined alloy wheels. Again, these are fitted as part of the XCellence pack, but they’re a feature that I have a bit of gripe with. They put too much of a harsh edge on to the car’s ride and make it far more jittery than you’d want a car of this type to be.
Elsewhere the Tarraco is supremely comfortable, so it seems mad to undo this by adding huge wheels which take away that excellent ride quality. Personally, I’d option a much smaller alloy – they might not look quite as good, but the ride is improved by a hefty amount.
Underneath the bonnet sits a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine with 148bhp. It’s not an awful lot of power for a car of this size, but it gets the Tarraco up to speed in a reasonable enough time. Sprightly it is not, but a by-product of this reduced pace is excellent economy.
Seat claims up to 38.2mpg combined for the Tarraco, and I’ve already been well within touching distance of this figure – despite the car not being quite run-in yet. It means that Tarraco drives around simply sipping diesel and that’s a refreshing thing to say about a large, relatively heavy SUV.
I’m traditionally someone who leans far more towards estate cars as a viable family option instead of an SUV, but the Tarraco does make me think twice about this assumption. It’s efficient, good-looking and comfortable (when you’re riding on smaller alloys, that is). Plus, it just feels like it has a bit more character than other SUVs on the market today.
Oh, and it’s worth pointing out that our car chimes in at just over £35,000 without any options added. That’s for a fully specced, bristling-with-equipment SUV with seven seats and an efficient diesel engine. Head over to other ‘premium’ brands and I’d argue that to get the same level of tech and features as standard you’d be knocking on the door of £50,000. And that’s for this bells-and-whistles version; the entry-level SE model kicks off from £28,320 and still gets all the practicality that this car gets. Which, as I’ve mentioned before, is what it’s all about in this segment.
We’ve got several more months to go behind the wheel of the Tarraco and I’m sure that it’s going to prove immensely popular – so stay tuned to see how we get on with it.
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