SEAT Tarraco SUV review
"The SEAT Tarraco is stylish and nice to drive, but it doesn't really stand out in the SUV crowd"
- Smart looks
- Enjoyable to drive
- Spacious for five passengers
- Feels generic
- Tight third-row seats
- Some safety features not standard
The SEAT Tarraco sits at the top of the Spanish brand's SUV range, offering more space than the SEAT Arona and SEAT Ateca. Closely related to the Skoda Kodiaq, the Tarraco has seven seats as standard, making it a fashionable alternative to people carriers such as the Ford S-MAX and the now-discontinued SEAT Alhambra.
Of course, there's no shortage of seven-seat SUVs around these days, with the Kodiaq, Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, Kia Sorento, Peugeot 5008, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Nissan X-Trail all offering a third row for occasional use. With all these rivals, and more besides, can the Tarraco offer something unique to set itself apart from the crowd?
It's certainly a smart-looking car and was the first to use SEAT’s current design language, which is now also seen on the SEAT Leon and Cupra Formentor. It has a sharp-edged six-sided front grille with a chrome surround that gives it a premium air, one which SEAT models haven’t always exuded. Slim, angular headlamps are slightly inset in an attempt to give the Tarraco an individual look, while the side mirrors are mounted on the doors rather than the A-pillars for a more sporting feel.
Under the surface, there's little to separate the Tarraco from the Skoda Kodiaq. There's a choice of turbocharged 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines, ideally suited to low and medium-mileage drivers, as well as two 2.0-litre diesel engines that hoover up motorway miles. With their greater pulling power, the diesels are well suited to towing a caravan or trailer, particularly in combination with SEAT's 4Drive four-wheel-drive system. It's a shame, however, that 4Drive is only available with the most poweful petrol and diesel engines higher in the Tarraco range.
The Tarraco feels a little sharper and more responsive from behind the wheel than the Skoda, thanks in part to suspension that is 20mm lower and reduces lean in corners, but the ride is firmer too. The most powerful 2.0-litre TSI petrol model (which has an engine shared with the Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatchback) can cover 0-62mph in just 6.2 seconds - at the expense of fuel economy - while the more sensible engines all cover the distance in 10 seconds or less. A Tarraco plug-in hybrid version is thought to be in the pipeline.
Inside, the Tarraco is pleasingly designed and well equipped. The dashboard has a smoother, more rounded look than previous SEAT designs, with a free-standing touchscreen infotainment screen that’s modern and easy to reach when you're on the move, but sports quite a thick bezel. A recent update added Adaptive Cruise Control and the SEAT Connect app to all models across the range, so you can lock your vehicle remotely or find it in the car park.
There's generous interior space, too – at least for those who occupy the first and second rows of seats. The standard-fit third row, meanwhile, is best treated as overflow space when two extra passengers need to travel a short distance, or for use by younger children. Alternatively, you can fold them out of the way entirely to free up a useful 700-litre boot. There's bags of safety equipment as standard, too, and lots more available at extra cost.
As a versatile family SUV, the SEAT Tarraco ticks most of the boxes. Unfortunately for SEAT, so do many of its rivals. Distinctive looks aside, the Spanish SUV fails to outshine established favourites like its in-house Volkswagen Group rival, the Skoda Kodiaq – especially when the latter's handy 'simply clever' touches and lower price are taken into account.
Tarraco ownership is a straightforward experience, according to our 2021 Driver Power survey, with SEAT finishing in the middle of our survey with decent scores for reliability across its model range. The brand also received a high score for their cars’ handling, while infotainment and connectivity also won praise from owners. The Tarraco is also a class leader for safety, with a five-star score from Euro NCAP.
Which Is Best?
- Name1.5 TSI EVO SE 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name2.0 TDI SE 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name2.0 TSI 245 FR 5dr DSG 4Drive
- Gearbox typeAuto