New Seat Tarraco vs Peugeot 5008
Seat has proven adept at making SUVs – but is its largest one yet, the Tarraco, good enough to topple our recommended Peugeot 5008?...
Seat Tarraco 1.5 TSI Evo 150 SE Technology
List price £29,330
Target Price £29,042
Seat now offers more SUVs than any other type of car; this is the brand’s largest yet.
Imagine this: it’s the summer of 2021 and Starbucks is best known for its takeaway pizzas, while down at your local branch of Ann Summers, more people are buying formal business wear than skimpy underwear.
It seems far-fetched and like some sort of parallel universe, doesn’t it? Well, it’s no more radical than the transformation that has taken place at Seat over the past couple of years. Until mid-2016, the Spanish brand had never even had an SUV in its ranks; it now sells more of them than any other type of car.
And they’re all jolly good buys. The Ford Fiesta-sized Arona is our favourite small SUV, for instance, while the larger Ateca is one of the best family-sized SUVs. Or if you want something a bit more feisty, there’s the Cupra Ateca – our newly crowned 2019 Sports SUV of the Year.
All of which means that the new Tarraco – the company’s largest SUV yet – has a lot to live up to. To really impress us, it’ll need to see off the brilliant Peugeot 5008, so to find out if Seat has yet another winning SUV on its hands, we’re pitting both cars against each other in their entry-level petrol forms and with standard six-speed manual gearboxes.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
In the 5008, entry-level petrol form means a dinky 1.2-litre engine with just three cylinders and 129bhp, whereas in the Tarraco you get a brawnier four-cylinder 1.5 with 148bhp.
It’s pretty obvious which car is the sprightlier performer, then, right? Actually, no: surprisingly, the 5008 proved the faster-accelerating car in our tests. The difference is quite small if you’re revving the engine hard and changing up through the gears, but it’s much more noticeable when you’re trying to build speed from low revs.
This makes the 5008 the more relaxing car to drive and also means it feels more in its comfort zone along hilly routes or when you’re loaded up with people and paraphernalia. The only downside is that you feel a few more vibrations filtering up through the soles of your feet when you accelerate; the Tarraco’s engine is slightly smoother.
There’s little to split our duo when it comes to cruising refinement. You hear less tyre slap in the Tarraco at a steady 70mph but more wind noise and engine boom than you do in the 5008. Likewise, although the Tarraco has the slicker gearchange, its numb clutch pedal, combined with the engine’s limited pull below 1500rpm, means you’re much more likely to stall it when pulling away.
So far, we’ve only tried the Tarraco on 20in wheels – available exclusively on the range-topping Xcellence model in the UK. Big wheels rarely do ride comfort any favours, but even in this form the Tarraco is never fractious and actually rides town scars and potholes pretty well. We strongly suspect the 18in wheels you’ll get if you order SE Technology trim will make the ride comfier still.
The 5008, which had optional 19in wheels in the form we tested it, is less composed than the Tarraco along town roads; nasty scars aren’t dealt with as well and there’s more pitch and dive when you accelerate and brake, so you can sometimes feel like you’re doing a nodding dog impression. However, things are better if you stick with standard 18in wheels, and in any case the 5008 is the more comfortable and settled car at higher speeds – particularly on the motorway.
Compared with some rivals, such as the Hyundai Santa Fe, both are pretty agile through corners. But they’re still big cars, so it comes as no surprise that there’s some body lean in tight turns, and you wouldn’t describe either as fun to drive. The 5008’s steering is heavier at manoeuvring speeds and quicker to respond when you turn the wheel, but both set-ups are precise enough to allow you to place the car exactly where you want it at higher speeds.
Page 1 of 6