Seat Tarraco long-term test: report 3

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

Seat Tarraco gearstick

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 1348 List price £31,055 Target Price £27,727 Price as tested £31,055 Options None Test economy 36.5mpg Official economy 44.1mpg

13 November 2019 – What a difference a gearbox makes

Let’s be clear up front: the Seat Tarraco is a terrific car. 

It offers pretty much everything a family could ask of a large SUV at a very appealing price. It deserves all of its four stars, and is rightly regarded as being just a fraction behind the What Car? Award-winning Skoda Kodiaq.

What shortcomings there are niggle, however, and some of which can be avoided. Chief among these – and the focus of this less positive piece – is the manual gearbox.

Normally, without exception, I would expect to get used to any controls over time, but I simply cannot stop stalling the Tarraco, thanks largely I believe to the lengths of first and second gears, one of which is longer than expected, the other of which is shorter.

Seat Tarraco LT dash

It’s embarrassing to keep stalling, and more so when a dip of the clutch to engage the stop-start into play doesn’t do the trick and you have to rethumb the starter button.

But I don’t just blame myself, with this six-speed manual tuned, as is seemingly increasingly the case, I suspect, in order to ace emissions tests rather than benefit driving ease.

The net result of all this serves to underline my belief that a car of this size should really be specced as an auto. But even then Seat hasn’t made it easy.

How so? In order to order the Tarraco with the seven-speed auto you also need to combine it with the firm’s 4Drive four-wheel drive system, which adds a hefty £3190 – more than 10% of the car’s cost – to the price tag.


And doubly ouch when you do a comparison with the aforementioned Kodiaq. While it’s never entirely fair to compare two differently specced and priced cars head-to-head, it is notable that the same-engined Skoda as the Seat can be specced as a 4x4 for an additional £410 over its list price and with a seven-speed automatic gearbox for £1300.

Not quite like for like it may be, but that still makes Seat’s £3190 look pretty pricey compared to Skoda’s £1710 for the combination.

If I was set on the Tarraco I’d spend the extra on the automatic gearbox – as I say, it’s a niggle not a deal-breaker. But I bet on learning this some buyers would take a look at the Kodiaq again just to be sure they were making the right choice.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Read more on our long-term Seat Tarraco >>

See more long-term test reports >>

Also consider