Seat Tarraco long-term test: report 1

Large SUV buyers have never had so much choice, so where does the Seat Tarraco fit in among its competitors?...

Seat Tarraco by River Thames

The car: Seat Tarraco 2.0 TDI 150 SE Technology

Run by: Jim Holder, editorial director

Why it’s here: To show why it should stand out in the crowded large SUV market

Needs to: Be practical, economical and ideal for everything from short urban hops to long-distance holiday travel

Mileage 898 List price £31,055 Target Price £27,727 Price as tested £31,055 Options None Test economy 36.2mpg Official economy 44.1mpg

Choice is a wonderful thing, but when you’re about to spend a considerable amount of money or commit to buying something that you’ll live with for a long time, it can also be pretty paralysing.

I imagine many people weighing up whether to buy an SUV must feel that emotion these days, because the array of choice has exploded. While the trailblazing Juke, Qashqai and X-Trail from Nissan might still be the de facto ways of discussing styles of SUVs, they are now vying with a multitude of models from every car maker for your attention.

Long-term Seat Tarraco boot

One of those new choices is the seven-seat Seat Tarraco, an example of which you see here. Just to add to the tightness of the decisions that buyers face, it's closely related to the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and the Skoda Kodiaq, a very similar example of which I have previously spent several months driving around in, discovering it to be excellent.

First impressions of the Tarraco are very promising, with most of the Kodiaq’s positives concerning space, comfort and practicality ringing true, plus some added touches just raising the game a little (as you might expect almost two years later). The highlight so far is the inclusion of two USB ports up front and one in the back. I know that could sound an utterly ridiculous reason to recommend a car, but it's proving a major boon as we seek to keep all our devices on-song over longer journeys. Imagine the fights if you only had one plug socket at home. It’s also a point that highlights just how fine buying choices can be.

Like my old Kodiaq, this Taracco has a 147bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine, which I would describe as being controversial and sensible in equal measure. Controversial because, well, it’s a diesel. More so even because I live on the outskirts of London and my commute is both short and dominated by urban travel - neither of which I'd recommend as positive reasons to make this choice, although weekly longer journeys will swing the balance.

Seat Tarraco driving seat

And sensible because, particularly for higher mileage drivers with more open driving routes, modern diesel continues to be an economical and clean (in some regards) alternative to petrol, especially in heavier cars such as this. Yes, diesel can still be environmentally worthy of consideration.

However, perhaps the upside is best described economically, using the official figures of 47.9mpg and 129g/km of CO2 for this diesel Tarraco versus 37.2mpg and 147g/km of CO2 for the equivalent petrol. As ever, buyers should buy according to a very careful assessment of their personal requirements and circumstances, but don’t assume there’s only one answer, or that there's anything remotely close to a guilt-free option.

Keeping with the parsimonious theme, I’ve opted for the SE Technology trim, which is reasonably equipped and the What Car? pick when it comes to balancing cost and kit. Added niceties over base SE spec include sat-nav, 18in alloy wheels and tinted rear windows, all of which just tip the price over £30,000. In a practical family car, living with cloth seats and harder-wearing plastics makes sense.

Long-term Seat Tarraco boot badge

The only nagging doubt I have in the back of my head is whether I should have spend more to get an automatic gearbox. In a car as big as this, I wonder if I will regret the manual, although I would have had to have four-wheel drive as well, adding more than £3000 to the price list. 

All in, this Tarraco costs £31,055, the white metallic paint a no-cost option and the careful packaging of trim levels by Seat meaning I haven’t ticked a single option box. As ever, you can’t compare directly due to variations in kit, but this does make the Tarraco look competitive on price to its rivals, and more so when you investigate the latest Target Price savings. The question now is whether its qualities will also be competitive to live with.

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