Customers looking for a 7-seat car that’s not an MPV, have traditionally faced a bit of a quandary, because there really hasn’t been a large choice out there. However, as the SUV revolution continues unabated, the car manufacturers have stepped up to the plate by introducing plenty of new SUV’s with a 7-seat option. There’s the premium offerings, which include the Volvo XC90, Land Rover Discovery, Tesla Model X & Audi Q7. Or the more cost effective options such as the KIA Sorento, Skoda Kodiaq & Peugeot 500, which were recently joined by a new contender, the Seat Tarraco.
We got a chance to drive the new range-topping Seat & thankfully it was diesel, because despite the Tarraco range being offered with petrol engines, if you’re doing the miles, then the diesel model still makes the most sense.
Although the Volkswagen Audi Group bought both Seat & Skoda into the fold at around the same time, here in the UK anyway, Skoda has been more popular, despite the fact that the equivalent Seat models have always been a touch more exciting, both to drive & to look at, especially the Cupra range. Skoda’s Kodiaq has been around for a couple of years already, so the Tarraco which is also built on the same MQB platform, is already playing catch up. With the launch of Tarraco, Seat now has a three-model SUV line-up, as it joins the Ateca & Arona, which already account for a third of all Seat sales, so by launching a larger model, Seat hope to grab a piece of the large SUV pie.
The model we tested was the Tarraco Xcellence 2.0 TDI 4Drive 190PS 7-speed DSG in fetching Atlantic Blue metallic, with a price tag of £36,330. There’s also a couple of petrol versions, a 1.5 TSI eve or a 2.0 TSI NR DSG-auto, with two more diesels a 6-speed manual or auto 150.
Things got off to a good start as the Tarraco to my mind’s a better looking car then the Skoda Kodiaq, with VW Tiguanesque lines down it’s flanks, a chrome criss-cross front grille, triangular LED headlights & a tidy rear end. The standout though, is in the cabin. The finish & quality of the dashboard, switchgear & steering wheel, give’s Audi a run for it’s money. It’s definitely the nicest Seat interior thus far. It’s not overboard though, with the Baza Grey cloth upholstery & brown Alcantara sport seats, adding just a bit of va va voom to proceedings. The familiar VW Group infotainment system & digital drivers display compliment each other, with even choice of thee screen option’s to view your rev counter & speedo.
The interior is also cavernous, with loads of room in the front & in the centre most rear seats. Getting to seat’s six & seven is tricky, but not impossible & again once you’re in the back, there’s actually a decent amount of space for two small adults. Fold down the rear two seats, which go flat into the Tarraco’s floor & you’ve a very useful 700 litres on offer. Up front, there’s a central storage cubby with two cupholders, two large door pockets, a usable glove box & a cubby for your phone when connected via the USB & even space for your car keys. Rear passengers get decent door pocket storage as well.
Whilst the interior scores highly across the board, another positive is the 7-speed DSG gearbox, which makes driving this large vehicle an absolute doddle. As a fleet writer I tend towards the ECO mode on any auto box & this time was no different. ECO provide’s the most cost-effective drive & is especially useful around town & on long-haul motorway trips. There are though, plenty of other options for the driver, as this is a car built to handle bad weather & light off-road terrain, as well as the urban jungle. Choose from Normal, Sport, Individual, Offroad & Snow, all of which are self explanatory. I drove both in Eco & Sport mode & found both to be enjoyable. I also refrained from using the manual gear shift which is there if you want it.
A real plus for buyer’s, is that the Seat navigation system is among the best in class, with easy-to-understand menus & a snappy user-friendly touchscreen interface. The screen itself is sharp & the hi-res images are crystal clear. It also comes with both Android Auto & Apple CarPlay connectivity, which many customers expect nowadays.
Driving the Tarraco is also a positive experience. Whilst SUV’s are never going to handle like a saloon car, this Seat does a good job of offering relaxed driving with a touch of fun thrown in, thanks to the useful 190bhp on offer. Select the Sport driving mode & it will reach 62mph in 8 seconds & it does so quietly. The driving position gives a good view of the road & the front seats are comfortable as well. On uneven roads, it rides well soaking up any imperfections as you go. For a car that weighs over 1,700kg, the steering is really light & precise & Seat’s engineer’s deserve a mention here because it’s this that makes it fun to drive.
Compared to what else is offered in the sector, the Tarraco is very much a better car to drive than the Peugeot 5008 or KIA Sorento & is more then a match for Skoda’s Kodiaq, which when it came out, we praised highly. For me though, the Tarraco beats the Skoda, because it’s more attractive to look at & the interior is fresher & is more upmarket, resembling an Audi on many levels
For business customers the model we drove offers a combined fuel economy of 50.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 147g/km. The manual 2.0 litre diesel is slightly better in both departments, with a combined fuel economy of 57.6mpg & CO2 emissions are 129g/km. We would steer clear of the petrol variants, despite the trend for petrol, because you’ll get almost 16 mpg more from the diesel manual, than even the 1.5 TSI petrol version.
If I’m being honest, the Tarraco surprised me. It’s not only the nicest Seat yet, it’s the best car we’ve driven in the 7-seat SUV class. Although brand obsessed customer’s will pay stupid money to lease an Audi Q7, rather than choose the wonderful Volkswagen Touareg, the Tarraco genuinely offers a bargain alternative to both. It features the same engine, the same gearbox, the same tech & it’s built on the same platform, but will cost you a lot less. For example, the Tarraco 2.0 litre TDI manual will cost you under £300 a month on a 3+35 contract. A Q7 will cost almost double that. Is that badge really worth it ?
A Tarragona Special 4.25/5.