What Car? says...
Allowing the internet to name things sounds like a bad idea – remember Boaty McBoatface? – but in the case of the Seat Tarraco it's worked out pretty well.
This seven-seat SUV was called the Tarraco after 150,000 members of the public suggested the word (it's what the Spanish city of Tarragona used to be called).
If you were to rip away the bodywork, you’d find roughly the same underpinnings as a VW Tiguan Allspace has. As with that car, all versions of the Tarraco have seven seats.
So, why might you choose the Seat Tarraco over the Tiguan Allspace, its other close relative, the Skoda Kodiaq – or indeed other good seven-seaters such as the Kia Sorento and the Peugeot 5008? That’s what we’ll be looking at in this review.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Seat Tarraco’s engine line-up kicks off with a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 148bhp – badged 1.5 EcoTSI 150. It's our pick of the range and great most of the time, feeling more than sufficient around town and when tackling longer jaunts along motorways.
With the standard six-speed manual gearbox, 0-62mph takes 9.9 seconds, which is roughly the same as the Kia Sorento Hybrid and the Peugeot 5008 1.2 Puretech 130. It only labours a little if the car is completely rammed to the rafters with people and luggage. The 0-62mph time drops to 9.7 seconds with the optional dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
If you think you might need a bit more load-lugging or towing ability, the 2.0 TDI 150 diesel is still a good shout, giving you the same amount of horsepower as the petrol and, once again, the choice of a manual or auto gearbox. It's not as quick as our favourite petrol flat out (0-62mph takes 10.2 seconds) but it has more mid-range welly for pulling heavy loads more easily.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Tarraco has firmer suspension and, as a result, a sportier feel than some rivals, including its cousin the Skoda Kodiaq. In our favourite SE trim with 17in alloy wheels (or go no bigger than 18in), you’ll find that the ride is still fairly comfortable, the suspension absorbing more surface imperfections pretty well.
It'll smooth out drain covers and motorway expansion joints easily, with just sharper potholes and the like making it judder. Once you get to the bigger wheels, say 19in and upwards, you'll feel more of the imperfections more of the time.
That said, even bigger-wheeled versions aren't cruel in the way they deal with most ruts, and all Tarracos feel settled over undulations on country roads. In the ultra-soft (five-seat-only) Citroën C5 Aircross you'll be swaying in your seat rather more.
The biggest positive of the Tarraco’s sportier suspension is that it’s better to drive than most seven-seaters on twisty roads. The firm suspension significantly reduces body lean through bends, so there’s a bit less than in the Kodiaq and the Peugeot 5008, and much less than in the C5 Aircross.
The steering is impressive, proving light and precise but with weight that builds reassuringly as you pick up the pace. Ultimately, that makes it a doddle to steer through traffic and place accurately in sweeping corners.
It’s hard to ignore that big seven-seaters aren’t exactly built for handling prowess, but if that’s important to you the VW Tiguan Allspace is a fine alternative (as is the Mazda CX-5 if you want a big SUV but can make do with five seats).
Noise and vibration
Both the Tarraco’s engines are pleasantly muted, especially compared with those in the Honda CR-V and the Nissan X-Trail – and even, for that matter, some of the engines in the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
As you might expect, the 1.5 TSI 150 petrol is quieter than the 2.0 TDI diesel. Better still, at speed, there’s very little wind or road noise audible inside the car, making for comfortable motorway travel.
The six-speed manual gearbox has a slick gear change but a numb clutch pedal that's a little hard to predict. The seven-speed auto is slick through its gears but can be slow to react as you pull away from junctions and a bit abrupt when you’re edging delicately into a parking space.
Strengths Good handling; strong engines; decent ride with smaller wheels
Weaknesses Slow automatic gearbox
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
You sit relatively high up in the Seat Tarraco, looking down on people in hatchbacks and smaller SUVs – although you'll feel looked down on from a Range Rover.
There’s plenty of adjustment to the steering wheel and driver's seat, letting you set up everything just how you like it. Even adjustable lumbar support is standard, with electric seat adjustment, including a memory function, standard from FR trim.
Annoyingly, the climate control is operated by using touch-sensitive controls that are far more distracting than physical knobs and switches. We much prefer the physical controls in the Ford Kuga and the Honda CR-V, and even the Kia Sorento, which only has touch-sensitive buttons for less significant functions.
Every Tarraco comes as standard with a digital instrument panel that’s clear and easy to see. What’s more, you can arrange it in different styles depending on your preference, even allowing you to display a fullscreen map if sat-nav is equipped.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The high driving position means you have an excellent view out over the bonnet and the narrow front window pillars mean you can see out at junctions easily.
The view over your shoulder isn't as good because of the bulky rear pillars. Happily, standard-fit rear parking sensors make parking a doddle, with FR trim adding front sensors and self-parking, and FR Sport adding a rear-view camera.
You’ll be able to see plenty at night, too, with every Tarraco getting bright automatic LED headlights.
Sat nav and infotainment
Most Tarracos get an 8.3in touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration (so you can use phone apps through the screen). Every version comes with three USB-C sockets and an eight-speaker stereo.
You get a bigger (9.2in) screen and built-in sat-nav if you upgrade to SE Technology trim or above.
Whatever the screen size, the operating system remains the same and has lots of menus and sub-menus to get your head around. Still, it’s easier to operate than the infotainment systems in the Citroën C5 Aircross and the Peugeot 5008. It's also more responsive, with very little delay once you press and icon.
However, the touchscreen is more distracting to use when you’re driving than the rotary dial controllers fitted to some cars, including the Mazda CX-5.
The Tarraco’s interior doesn't look as special as the 5008’s, but it’s a definite step up from that of the Ateca and other Seats. Its tactile, soft-touch materials are comparable with those found in the Skoda Kodiaq and the VW Tiguan Allspace.
If you search for them, you’ll find some hard, cheaper-feeling plastics, but they’re generally restricted to low-down places and away from the areas you regularly touch. The buttons and switches are well-damped and a pleasure to use.
Strengths Impressive interior quality; high driving position; responsive infotainment system
Weaknesses Touch-sensitive climate controls; restricted over-the-shoulder visibility
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
You’ll find loads of head and leg room in the front of the Seat Tarraco, so even the tallest occupants won’t feel claustrophobic. The interior is wide, so even two broad rugby players won't rub shoulders.
Storage wise, each door bin is wide enough to take a large bottle of water. There are also quite a few handy storage spaces, including a bin under the front armrest, two large cupholders between the front seats and a cubby in front of the gear lever.
All versions come with sliding and reclining second-row seats and, with them pushed right back, there’s enough leg room for adults well over six feet tall.
Head room also impresses, even if you specify a panoramic glass roof. By contrast, the 5008’s second-row head room goes from average to terrible when a panoramic roof is fitted.
Don’t expect palatial accommodation in the Tarraco’s third-row seats, though: adults and tall teens will have to perform some origami to fit into the seats.
If you need to carry up to seven adults regularly, a Peugeot 5008 or a Skoda Kodiaq will suit you better, and the massive Kia Sorento will be absolutely ace. By the way, the Tarraco's rear-most seats don't have Isofix child-seat mountings.
Seat folding and flexibility
In addition to sliding back and forth, the second row of seats is split 40/20/40. That means you can run skis or other long, slim items along the centre of the car and still carry rear passengers in each of the outer seats.
The two rear-most seats are light and easy to fold down into the boot floor, and lie flat enough that they don’t get in the way when you're loading up heavy items.
On paper, the Tarraco’s boot has a volume of 700 litres with the rear-most seats folded away. It's a match for the VW Tiguan Allspace and the Sorento, but is beaten by the 5008.
In the real world, the Tarraco can accommodate eight carry-on suitcases below its parcel shelf with five seats in use. The Sorento and 5008 can swallow an impressive 10. The Sorento also has more boot space left when the third-row seats are raised.
There are a number of tie-down rings in the Tarraco’s boot to help secure loads, plus an underfloor luggage compartment, although that space is consumed by the spare wheel if you order one.
Strengths Versatile second row seats; lots of space in front and rear; loads of storage space
Weaknesses Tight third row; boot smaller than rivals
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Seat Tarraco's starting price is a lot higher than that of the Citroën C5 Aircross, slightly more than the Mazda CX-5 and less than the Peugeot 5008 and Skoda Kodiaq. The trouble is that it's predicted to depreciate a bit quicker than those rivals, which is likely to lead to higher monthly payments on PCP.
When it comes to fuel economy, the petrol Tarraco’s official figure of 42.2mpg isn’t quite as appealing as the C5 Aircross’s 48.9mpg or the 5008’s 46.4mpg. Meanwhile, the petrol 5008 officially manages 53.3mpg.
The same can be said when it comes to CO2 emissions, with the Tarraco producing more than those rivals. Even so, if you’re looking for a company car that attracts the lowest benefit-in-kind (BIK) rates, you might want to look at a plug-in hybrid, such as the plug-in hybrid Ford Kuga.
Equipment, options and extras
The Tarraco has a shorter options list than some rivals, but that's largely because all versions come with plenty of kit as standard.
Even entry-level SE trim gets 17in alloy wheels, three-zone climate control, automatic wipers, power-folding and heated wing mirrors, parking sensors, LED headlights and touchscreen infotainment. For that reason, it’s our favourite trim.
SE Technology trim gives you built-in sat-nav, the larger infotainment screen, privacy glass and 18in alloy wheels, but unless you really need those features, we don't think it's worth the extra cost.
FR trim has keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, a powered tailgate, sporty styling additions and electrically operated sports seats. You also get bigger (19in) alloy wheels, but bear in mind that they lead to a slightly firmer ride.
The Tarraco didn’t perform particularly well in the seven-seater class of the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, finishing last out of nine car models, including the Peugeot 5008, the Skoda Kodiaq and the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Seat as a brand fared better, coming 18th out of the 32 car brands ranked.
If anything does go wrong, you're covered by a three-year/60,000-mile manufacturer’s warranty. That's not bad, but it's nowhere near as comprehensive as Kia’s warranty, which covers you for up to seven years/100,000 miles.
Safety and security
Safety experts Euro NCAP awarded the Tarraco the full five stars when it was tested in 2019. It scored especially well when it comes to protecting adults in the front. It also scored well when it came to protecting children in the second row, but lost marks due to the third row's lack of Isofix child-seat mounts.
No matter which trim you go for, you get lots of standard safety equipment to hopefully prevent an accident from happening in the first place, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance, eCall emergency response and a driver drowsiness monitor. One feature that's not available is blind-spot monitoring (which many rivals do have).
Strengths Lots of standard equipment; competitive price tag; good safety rating
Weaknesses Depreciates faster than rivals; not the best reliability record
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Yes, all versions of the Tarraco are seven-seaters. The third row of two seats is best suited to children, though, because it's not the most generous when it comes to space.
The Tarraco is based on the same underpinnings as the VW Tiguan Allspace – sharing the same seven-seat configuration.
If you want something large and good to drive, the Tarraco is a great choice, offering plenty of space in the front and second row. The problem is that it it's not as efficient as its rivals and the third row is a bit cramped for adults.
|RRP price range||£33,415 - £42,190|
|Number of trims (see all)||6|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||diesel, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||38.7 - 52.3|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£2,225 / £2,897|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£4,449 / £5,793|