The SEAT Tarraco takes the stress out of long journeys and gives you a good choice of engines. But SEAT’s claims that it is genuinely sporty are a little optimistic
The SEAT Tarraco is available with a choice of four engines split equally between petrol and diesel.
The 150hp 1.5-litre petrol is the entry-level point to the SEAT Tarraco range and – depending on what kind of driving you do – is also one of the best options. It’s quiet, smooth and quick enough once you’re under way, aided by a slick-to-use six-speed manual gearbox. It gets from 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds and returns fuel economy of 38mpg.
If you want to combine petrol power with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive then you’ll need to go for the 190hp 2.0-litre model. It doesn’t feel a great deal quicker than the basic petrol but equally shouldn’t cost a great deal more to run.
If you’ll do lots of long journeys or will often have the car fully loaded, one of the punchy diesels will be a better option. The 150hp 2.0-litre model is a brilliant all-rounder that returns fuel economy of 50mpg and gets from 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds. On the motorway, it feels punchier than the petrol models, plus you can have it with four-wheel-drive and SEAT’s smooth shifting seven-speed automatic gearbox.
The 2.0-litre 190hp diesel gets the auto and four-wheel drive as standard, but the performance difference feels so marginal (it gets from 0-62mph in 8.0 seconds) you’re better off saving your money unless you must have the range-topping engine.
SEAT markets the Tarraco as an SUV that is genuinely sporty to drive, but this doesn’t really ring true in reality. Around tight corners it’ll feel a touch more enthusiastic than a Skoda Kodiaq but, in general, the whole experience is so numb it’s hard to derive an awful lot of pleasure from it. It doesn’t get close to genuine sporty SUVs like the Porsche Macan, BMW X3 or even the Cupra Ateca from SEAT’s sub-brand.
Compared with other family SUVs though, the Tarraco makes a much better case for itself because body lean is well contained and it remains unflustered by whatever you throw at it. You can build on this jack-of-all-trades character by specifying the optional DCC dampers, which let you firm up the suspension in bends for more control before loosening it off for more comfort on bumpy roads.
Even with the fancy dampers, the Tarraco feels most comfortable on the motorway. At these higher speeds it smooths out bumps well and the cabin is pretty quiet. Xcellence models and above come with active cruise control as standard which effectively hands the job of braking and accelerating over to the car.
Xcellence models also come with a reversing camera as standard, making it that bit easier to get the big Tarraco tucked away into tight town parking spaces.
Move one step up to Xcellence Lux and you get a handy 360-degree camera, which gives you an overhead view of the car – handy for preserving the alloy wheels. Even without all this fancy kit, though, the Tarraco isn’t hard to drive in the city thanks to its light controls and standard rear parking sensors. It’s also good to know that all models come with automatic emergency brakes that’ll slam on if the car detects an imminent collision.