2019 Seat Tarraco review - price, specs and release date
Seat's first seven-seat SUV includes plenty of clever tech and some pleasant engines, but is it a better buy than its rivals?...
Priced from £28,320 | On sale December 2018
The Wombles of Wimbledon have more in common with the new Seat Tarraco than you might initially think. Okay, one is a group of creatures from a beloved children’s story aimed to educate the masses in recycling and the other is a new seven-seat SUV. But beneath the Tarraco’s new nose and bottom, it uses the same platform that underpins the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and Skoda Kodiaq, as well as some technology borrowed from Audi.
This sharing of parts is not necessarily a bad thing: the Kodiaq won our Best Large SUV award in 2017, after all, so if you were going to base your new seven-seater on something, that would be a good place to start.
We’ve already driven a disguised, pre-production Tarraco, but this is the first time we’ve seen it uncovered and wearing the new Seat corporate face. The question, though, is whether should you choose the Tarraco over its siblings or other accomplished rivals.
2018 Seat Tarraco on the road
Seat reckons that the 148bhp 1.5 TSI Evo petrol that kicks off the Tarraco range will take the majority of UK sales. It’s a sweet little engine and has a fair amount of low-end torque, so you don’t have to rev it excessively to make decent progress. Once you're moving, the engine can run on just two cylinders to save fuel, although the 38.7mpg combined economy figure might be a bit of a worry for anyone planning on doing lots of miles.
There’s also a more economical 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel and a more powerful 188bhp version that comes exclusively with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive – just like the 188bhp 2.0-litre petrol.
Even the lesser diesel offers reasonable performance and has enough low-down grunt for most people's needs, but the optional seven-speed auto 'box is often reluctant to change down when you ask for more power, resulting in noisy revving.
Meanwhile, the most potent petrol engine, the 2.0, doesn’t feel that much faster than the 1.5 and can be quite pricey to buy.
The ride and handling are impressive, though. The steering is light and makes threading the Tarraco through traffic a doddle. On faster roads, it weights up reassuringly and is precise enough to allow you to place the car with ease in corners. It’ll sit rock steady in its lane on the motorway, too. Even on large 20in alloy wheels, the ride is generally good, but SE-spec cars are even better, thanks to smaller 17in wheels.
Road and suspension noise are well damped, and even the noisiest diesel engine is relatively muted when cruising. Wind noise will have you reaching for the stereo volume knob, though. This is an issue that also plagues the Kodiaq, but not the class-leading Peugeot 5008.
2018 Seat Tarraco interior
It appears Seat has been sifting through the Volkswagen Group's technology catalogue, because every Tarraco comes with full LED lights, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and a digital instrument display. This 10.3in TFT screen replaces all of the analogue dials and is configurable, being able to provide even the nerdiest of drivers with a ton of information.
All Tarracos sold in the UK will have seven seats, but you ought to think of them only as emergency chairs, since head room isn’t particularly generous for adults. In fact, you wouldn’t even be able to fit a young child in them, because they can't accommodate child seats.
Even when folded down, the third-row seats eat into the available boot room, because the floor is raised to accommodate them and to provide a hiding place for the tonneau cover. You still get a more than decent 700 litres of room, though.
Matters are improved thanks to the fact that the middle bench split-folds in a more practical 40:20:40 arrangement. You can even fold the front passenger seat flat for really long items, such as an Ikea Billy bookcase, so you won't have to admit defeat and get home delivery.
Should you want a bit more detail, have a look at our four-point Tarraco review.