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19 May, 2019 1:00pm Pete Baiden
First report: seven-seat SEAT Tarraco SUV joins our fleet and makes a good first impression
SEAT is very proud of its Spanish heritage, so much so that nearly every model in its current line-up is named after a town or area in Spain. The Ibiza, Leon, Arona, Ateca and Alhambra all follow this formula, and so does the latest addition to the Auto Express fleet, the Tarraco.
For the past 37 years the Iberian brand has been using place names, starting way back with the Rondo in 1982. The Tarraco is the 14th car to follow this principle, but it was the first to be named by public vote. SEAT set up a poll to choose the name for its new seven-seat SUV back in late 2017, and Tarraco, the historical name for the city of Tarragona, edged out Avila, Aranda and Alboran, with more than 35 per cent of the votes.
Yet while the brand’s approach to its cars’ names is unique, the same can’t be said of the Tarraco itself. The large SUV shares many of its characteristics with the Skoda Kodiaq, sitting on the same version of the Volkswagen Group’s modular MQB platform and sharing the same range of engines. But that’s no bad thing because the Kodiaq scooped the Best Large SUV honour at our New Car Awards ceremony last year.
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Our Tarraco is an SE Technology model, which sits near the bottom of the range, with only the standard SE trim below it (Xcellence and Xcellence Lux sit above our car in the line-up). That doesn’t mean it’s short of kit, though, because the focus on technology really shines through.
Folding door mirrors, LED headlights and tail-lamps, daytime running lights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear parking sensors, hill-hold assist, three-zone climate control and an eight-inch touchscreen navigation system with SEAT’s Digital Cockpit all come as standard, along with 18-inch alloy wheels. Stepping up in trim level only really adds leather seats, a parking camera, larger wheels and a few cosmetic upgrades, so the SE Technology specification is the sweet spot of the range.
Just like the Kodiaq, the Tarraco offers bags of space, with lots of storage and plenty of leg and headroom in the rear seats. Boot capacity stands at 1,775 litres with the rear two benches folded flat (just down on the Kodiaq’s cavernous 2,005 litres), while there is even a usable 230 litres available with the car set up as a seven-seater. Those sixth and seventh chairs don’t offer much legroom, though, and are only really suitable for kids. Adults will simply find it too uncomfortable to spend much time back there, and the seats are tough to clamber into.
Where the Tarraco differs from the Kodiaq is in the way it drives. SEAT is well known for focusing on dynamics, and this SUV does not disappoint. Its sheer size means it has some limitations, but it feels controlled when turning sharply into corners and body roll is kept in check for the most part. The SE Technology’s smaller 18-inch wheels also provide a smooth ride and the car soaks up most road imperfections without flinching.
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The Tarraco’s engine line-up is standard VW Group fare. There’s the choice of a 1.5-litre TSI petrol with 148bhp, a 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI petrol or a 2.0-litre TDI diesel with either 148bhp or 187bhp. SE Technology is only available with the two lower-powered units, and our model has the 148bhp diesel. We’ve also plumped for the six-speed manual box, instead of the seven-speed DSG automatic.
The power figure might seem low for such a big car, but it copes with the demands of daily life well. So far I’ve used it around town and on some longer motorway journeys, and the engine never feels strained. In fact, the 340Nm of torque means it feels quite punchy when going for an overtake. A fully laden Tarraco might be a different story but, for most people, the lower-powered 2.0-litre diesel should be quick enough. Economy of 44.5mpg is also impressive for a 1,660kg car.
I’m looking forward to seeing how it copes with the demands of day-to-day life. My young son likes to grab and pull at anything within reach, so he’s sure to be testing the car as much as I am in the coming months.
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.
4.5 Our SEAT Tarraco offers almost everything that the Skoda Kodiaq does, but is more stylish to look at and superior to drive – plus it comes with all the equipment we’re ever likely to need.
- Model: SEAT Tarraco SE Technology 2.0 TDI 150PS manual
- On fleet since: April 2019
- Price new: £30,820
- Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl diesel, 148bhp
- CO2/tax: 129g/km/£140
- Options: None
- Insurance: Group: 24/Quote: £508
- Mileage: 1,658
- Economy: 44.5mpg
- Any problems?: None so far