Review

Seat Tarraco SUV (2018 - ) review

The Tarraco is a seven-seat SUV that represents the flagship of Seat’s range. And like any good flagship, it provides impressive quality and generous kit, and all for an affordable price.

Words by: First published: 23rd November 2018
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
The Seat Tarraco – like the Skoda Kodiaq with which it shares, well, pretty much everything – is a fabulous family car that offers seven-seat practicality, impressive quality, generous equipment and excellent value-for-money. There isn’t much to differentiate it from the Kodiaq other than looks, but that on its own means it’s an excellent car. Those after a family-friendly seven-seater should definitely have it on their shortlist.

Pros

  • Practical and versatile
  • High quality
  • Should be plenty of standard kit

Cons

  • Lots we still don’t know
  • Adaptive suspension not offered in UK
  • Some engines don’t make much sense

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How good does it look? 4/5

Looks are an entirely subjective thing, and you’ll decide for yourself whether the Tarraco is a more or less handsome car than the Skoda Kodiaq on which it’s based, or any of its other seven-seat SUV rivals. The more pronounced grille and deep-set headlamps are an indication of what Seat’s other cars will look like in the future, while the connecting strip between the rear lights is an interesting feature. All versions will feature alloy wheels and metallic paint.

What's the interior like? 5/5

The Tarraco is Seat’s flagship vehicle, and happily, it feels like it inside. There are some nice finishes and glossy elements that make it feel a good bit posher than other models in the firm’s range, and it’s easily the match of most of its competitors for quality. Even the surfaces that aren’t quite so lustrous are still solid and sturdy, which also adds to the car’s sophisticated feel. There’s plenty of adjustment for the driver’s seat and steering wheel that helps you find a comfy driving position, and you get a decent view out in all directions. The dashboard layout is simple and easy to navigate, and the touch-screen infotainment system has the same layout as most other such systems within the Volkswagen Group, just with a Seat-specific graphical treatment, so it’s reasonably easy and intuitive to use.

How practical is it? 5/5

The Tarraco comes with seven individual seats as standard. Those in the middle row can be slid, reclined and folded independently, while the two in the back fold down neatly into the boot floor. There’s enough room for a six-foot adult in all of them, provided those in the middle donate some kneeroom to those behind by sliding their chairs forward a smidge. The boot is a reasonably decent 230 litres with all seven seats in place, and if you only use five of them, the loadspace you get swells to a whopping 700 litres. Use the Tarraco in two-seat mode, and you get a maximum of 1775 litres, and the load floor is pretty flat and level the whole way along. This all means the Tarraco is an exceedingly practical and versatile car, and will suit any family who needs that.

What's it like to drive? 3/5

This is a wee bit of a grey area, because all the cars we’ve driven have been fitted with an adaptive suspension that’s optional in other European countries, but won’t be offered in the UK. For what it’s worth, the cars we drove were plenty comfortable enough in their cushiest mode, and whatever mode you happen to find yourself in, the Tarraco felt pretty agile and light on its feet for a car of this type. However, whether that’ll still be the case when we get to try a UK-spec car is anyone’s guess. What we can tell you with confidence, though, is that exterior noises are pretty well suppressed whatever your speed.

How powerful is it? 4/5

Four turbocharged engines are available, two petrols with 150 or 190 horsepower, and two diesels with the same power outputs. Both the most powerful engines come with four-wheel drive and a twin-clutch automatic gearbox as standard, while the entry-level petrol only comes with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox. With the entry-level diesel, you have a choice on both your gearbox and the amount of driven wheels.

The lower-powered petrol is likely to be the most popular, and this 1.5-litre unit should be fine for most people. It does feel a fraction flat at the bottom of the rev range, so it can take its time to get going, but it’ll still be perky enough for most people and it feels more muscular and responsive once you’re up to speed. It’s smooth and quiet, too, and the manual gearshift is also nice and slick. In truth, the stronger 2.0-litre petrol doesn’t feel a great deal stronger than its more modest counterpart, and you’ll also find the automatic gearbox can occasionally fluff its lines and impede your progress. So, unless you really want the auto’ and four-wheel drive, we don’t really see the point in upgrading.

We haven’t yet tried the entry-level diesel, but the more powerful one is a decent prospect. It’s not as quiet or as smooth as the petrols, but it’s not half bad on either score, and it delivers strong, smooth performance. It’ll also be better than the petrols if you want to use your Tarraco for towing.

How much will it cost me? 4/5

The full pricelist for the Tarraco hadn’t been announced at the time of writing, but looking at the few prices we do know about, it looks to be fairly similar to the Kodiaq on that score. That’s really important, because the Kodiaq already undercuts most of its seven-seat SUV rivals by a very hefty amount, adding a significant value-for-money element to the car’s lengthy list of attributes. If it transpires that the Tarraco does indeed do that too, it’ll be just as appealing. There’s still a bit of uncertainty around the specifics of CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, too, but we’d be surprised if they were vastly different to the Kodiaq’s, which are pretty good for the class.

How reliable is it? 3/5

The Warranty Direct Reliability survey ranks Seat in the bottom half of its manufacturer table, but the average age of the cars in the study means most will be the previous versions to the current ones, meaning the hardware they use – and thus how dependable it’ll be – is entirely different. The 2018 JD Power UK Vehicle Dependability Study tells a more positive story, with Seat ranking 6th out of the 24 manufacturers included in the study, an improvement on the previous year. Obviously, though, neither study took the Tarraco itself into consideration because it’s far too new.

How safe is it? 4/5

The full list of safety kit is another thing we hadn’t had access to at the time of writing, but we do know the Tarraco will come as standard with an emergency call system that’ll alert the emergency services automatically in the event of an accident. We’d also be very surprised if it didn’t come with a fair smattering of the latest electronic driver aids, such as automatic emergency braking. Another surprise – assuming that’s the case – would be if the Tarraco didn’t match the Kodiaq’s performance in Euro NCAP crash tests, given how mechanically similar the two cars are. Seat will be hoping it does, because the Kodiaq achieved the full five stars.

How much equipment do I get? 3/5

We hadn’t seen full UK specs at the time of writing, but we have been given a steer on the sort of equipment you can expect with each trim level. The entry-level SE car will come with full smartphone mirroring, a DAB radio, an alarm and air-conditioning, while SE Technology will add satellite-navigation and tinted windows. Xcellence adds a wireless phone charger, a rear-view camera, an electric tailgate and faux-suede upholstery, while top-of-the-range Xcellence Lux trim has leather upholstery and a top-view camera.

Why buy? 5/5

Because you need the same seven-seat practicality, family-friendly versatility, impressive quality, generous kit and fantastic value for money offered by the Skoda Kodiaq, but you prefer the way the Seat looks. There’s still a bit we don’t know about the details of the Tarraco, but assuming these factors all shake out as we expect them to, Seat will have an extremely appealing family car on its hands.

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