Seat Tarraco 2.0TDI 150 SE Technology08 | 04 | 2019Scotcars rating

    Seat's seven-seat Tarraco lands into a busy market; how does it fare against the rest?

    THERE’S A GROWING demand for big, family-friendly seven-seat SUVs, and now Seat has thrown its hat into the ring with its new Tarraco. But just how new, exactly, is the latest Seat? (Related: Seat ditches optional extras across range)

    There’s no denying it’s the latest SUV in the Spanish carmaker’s SUV range, joining the Arona and Ateca. So that’s one ‘new ‘ box ticked. Dig deeper though and you realise the Tarrarco shares its platform with fellow VW Group buddies, the Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace.

    That’s no bad thing, of course, and for anyone with a VW Group corporate hat on, makes perfect financial sense. The problem arises when you start trying to enter a third family member into an already crowded market, and create an identity to set it apart from rivals. (Related: Roadtest — Seat Ibiza SE 1.0TSI)

    Let’s cut to the chase right away. The Tarraco is hard to fault: it’s practical, comfortable, versatile, and very pleasant to drive. To be honest, the only real area it falls behind — certainly when set against main rivals Kodiaq, Tiguan Allspace and Peugeot 5008, all three of which are more established in the marketplace — is character. And is it exciting enough to drive?


    It’s not the most eye-catching in its sector, looking like a cross between its rivals from Skoda and VW. And neither of them are really anything to write home about.

    But to judge the Tarraco purely on its external aesthetics is to miss the point of its role in life. Seven-seater SUVs are workhorses. They’re bough for their cavernous space for occupants and ability to lug loads of family paraphernalia. Striking a pose on the kerbside was never on the list of ‘must-have’ requirements. (Related: Hot Skoda Kodiaq vRS to cost £42,870)

    So, rather than view it from the outside, let’s get inside and look out … or better still, cast our eyes round the cabin.

    Hmmm … initial thoughts are, it’s more of the same, certainly when it comes to assessing the dashboard. Whereas the Arona and Ateca have their own personality, albeit within a settled ‘automotive family’, the Tarraco doesn’t deliver anything to get excited about.


    Sure, as with any VW Group product, everything feels well screwed down. Materials? They’re somewhere between those you’ll find in the Ateca and the Kodiaq, but just tad down on the more upmarket Tiguan Allspace. The Peugeot 5008? Well that’s the most interesting of the four, certainly in terms of dashboard.

    As is the case elsewhere in the Seat range, the Tarraco starts with the SE, which is well equipped. A digital cockpit, cruise control, automatic emergency braking, three-zone climate control, and an eight-inch colour touchscreen with smartphone mirroring are all standard.


    Step up to the SE Technology, and you add sat-nav, while the Xcellence throws in sports seats, keyless entry and adaptive cruise control. You need to go for the Xcellence Lux if you want heated front and rear seats as standard. Soon to follow will be the FR and FR Sport versions, both of which will boast bodykits and bigger alloys.

    Across the whole range though, the one common denominator is the seven seats. There’s no five-seat alternative, as you get with the Kodiaq and Tiguan. But while the Tarraco matches its VW Group team-mates in terms of second and third row versatility — and all five rear seats stow away neatly to form a flat boot floor and and easier access — it trails the versatility of the excellent 5008.


    Not only is the French rival capable of carrying more luggage with the rearmost row folded down, it boasts a solid middle-row bench that splits 60:40 rather than three individual sliding, folding seats of the Tarraco.

    There’s ample space for those seated in the second row — which can accommodate three adults — while space in the third row is about half-way between that of the Tiguan Allspace and the Kodiaq. While legroom at the rear is decent, it’s the headroom which is a bit tight for grown-ups. But that’s not unusual. As with all these seven-seat SUVs, the rearmost seats are best suited to children.


    The engine line-up consists of a 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol; a 187bhp 2.0-litre petrol; and a 2.0-litre diesel with either 148bhp or 187bhp. The 148bhp petrol is front-driven and mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, while the 148bhp diesel can have either a six-speed manual and front-wheel drive, or a seven-speed DSG and four-wheel drive. All 187bhp variants send their power to both axles via the automatic transmission.


    In six-speed manual form, the 148bhp diesel is pokey enough. No, it’s not exactly quick, but really, why would you choose a car like this solely because it’s fast. That’s not the prerequisite of a seven-seat loadlugger. The diesel Tarraco is more than adequate in meeting what would be the normal driving demands of an average family. 0-62mph in 9.8secs; top speed of 126mph and 57.6mpg at the pumps all add up to a more than satisfactory total.

    Motorway cruising comes easy to the Tarraco, but it’s on the back roads where it surprises a little, being crisp and responsive in changing direction, and resisting body lean just a little bit better than most seven-seat SUVs.

    As I said earlier, the Tarraco is hard to fault, but there’s no getting away from the fact it lacks the character of the likes of the Ateca and Arona, which is a pity.


    Being late to the seven-seat party, you would have thought Seat would have identified the strong points of the Tiguan Allspace and the Kodiaq, and further developed and improved them. The reality is, though the Tarraco is competent, it leaves a feeling of “we’ve seen all this before”; and actually, nothing has been improved over its rivals. Which is a pity.

    That said, if you’re in the market for a big, family-friendly SUV capable of carrying seven people and their kit — and you can’t stretch to the VW or Skoda — the Seat should be on your ‘test drive’ list.

    Related: Hot Ateca SUV launches new Cupra

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    Jim McGill


    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £30,820 / £30,820
    Engine / Power: 1968cc four-cylinder diesel turbo, 6spd manual, manual gearbox, front-wheel drive / 148bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 9.8secs / Max 126mph
    How big/heavy?: L4735mm W1839mm H1674 / 1735kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 57.6mpg (NEDCc Combined) / 129g/km CO2 (NEDCc)
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / £210 first year, then £140/year
    Alternatives: VW Tiguan Allspace, Skoda Kodiaq, Peugeot 5008

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