What Car? says...
Think of the Seat Tarraco as the Boaty McBoatface of the car world. Nope, not because it’s a 15,000-tonne, 130-metre-long research vessel designed to explore the Antarctic, but rather because you, the general public, voted on its name.
The difference is that Seat actually went with the moniker that nearly 150,000 people from around the world favoured, instead of throwing that out and naming it after some famous naturalist. If you’re wondering, Tarraco isn’t a made-up word; it’s what the Spanish city of Tarragona, just down the coast from Barcelona, used to be called.
But enough about the name and how it came to be; what is the Tarraco? Well, fairly obviously it’s an SUV, and a pretty sizeable one to boot, sitting above the Ateca as the Spanish brand’s flagship model.
If you were to rip away the bodywork, you’d actually find roughly the same underpinnings as you would beneath a Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace. As with that car, the Tarraco is offered in a family-friendly seven-seat configuration only.
That’s what we’ll be looking at in this review. And, when you’ve learnt all you need to know, you can use our New Car Buying service to get a great deal on any of these cars without having to haggle.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Tarraco’s engine line-up kicks off with a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 148bhp – badged 1.5 TSI 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. 0-62mph takes 9.9sec for the six-speed manual (9.5sec if you opt for the dual-clutch automatic ’box), which is roughly the same as the Kia Sorento Hybrid and Peugeot 5008 1.2 Puretech 130, and it only labours a little if the car's completely rammed to the rafters with people and luggage.
If you think you might need a bit more lugging ability – for a regularly brimmed car or to tow with – the 2.0-litre diesels are still a good shout. There's a choice of two. The 148bhp 2.0 TDI 150 isn't quite as quick as our favourite petrol flat out (0-62mph take 10.2sec) but it has more welly in the mid-range for pulling heavy loads more easily.
We haven't tried the 197bhp 2.0 TDI 200 yet but it's claimed to hit 62mph in 7.8sec, making it the quickest in the range. Standard four-wheel drive will help it put down its power well in the wet, too.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Tarraco has a firmer suspension set-up and has a sportier feel than some rivals, including its cousin the Skoda Kodiaq, but, as long as you stick to our favourite SE trim with 17in alloy wheels (or go no bigger than 18in wheels), you’ll find the suspension still absorbs most 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.
Even so, even bigger-wheeled versions aren't cruel in the way they deal with most ruts, and all Tarracos generally feel settled over undulations on country roads. Drive the ultra-soft Citroën C5 Aircross and, by comparison, you'll be swaying in your seat rather more.
The upside of the Tarraco’s firm-ish suspension is that it does feel somewhat sportier than a few of its rivals. There’s less body lean through bends than there is in the Kodiaq and 5008 (and certainly a lot less than there is in the C5 Aircross).
It's also a doddle to steer through traffic as well as being easy to place accurately in sweeping corners thanks to light, precise steering that weights up reassuringly as you pick up the pace.
Noise and vibration
All of the Tarraco’s engines are pleasantly muted, especially compared with those in the Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail, and even, for that matter, some of the engines in the Land Rover Discovery Sport. You still find the 1.5 TSI 150 petrol quieter than the 2.0 TDI diesels, though.
At speed there’s very little wind or road noise audible on the inside, making for comfortable motorway travel. The six-speed manual gearbox has a slick gearchange but a numb clutch pedal that's a little hard to predict. The seven-speed auto is slick through its gears but can be a bit abrupt when you're edging delicately into a parking space.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
You sit relatively high in the Tarraco, looking down on people in their hatchbacks and smaller SUVs. Pull up alongside a Range Rover, though, and suddenly it'll be you that feels looked down on.
There’s plenty of adjustment to the steering wheel and the 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.
There are some silly touch-sensitive buttons for the climate controls instead of simple physical knob and switches. There are plenty of rivals that stick with at least some physical buttons, including the Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V and Kia Sorento (this does have some touch-sensitive buttons for less significant functions), and they just make life easier when you're driving along.
On the plus side, the Tarraco's standard digital instruments are clear and easy to arrange in different styles depending on your preference.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Your view of the road ahead is excellent and, while bulky rear pillars compromise a little of your over-the-shoulder vision, all Tarracos have rear parking sensors to help with manoeuvring. Front sensors appear from FR trim and FR Sport adds a 360-deg camera.
Every version comes with bright LED headlights and front fog lights.
Sat nav and infotainment
An 8.3in touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, is standard on all trims. The latter means you can use your smartphone apps as a sat-nav among other things, so the in-built navigation that comes with the bigger 9.3in screen (from SE Technology) isn't essential. Every version also comes with three USB-C sockets and an eight-speaker stereo.
Whatever the screen size, the system has many menus and sub-menus and these can take some learning, but it's easier to get your head around than the Citroën C5 Aircross's or Peugeot 5008's systems, and it's more responsive; there’s barely any delay once you press an icon. However, the touchscreen is more distracting to use when you’re driving than the rotary dial controller fitted to the rival Mazda CX-5.
The Tarraco’s interior may not look as special as the Peugeot 5008’s, but it’s a definite step up from that of other Seats, such as the Ateca. Its tactile, soft-touch materials are comparable with those found in the Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen 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, meanwhile, are all nicely damped and a pleasure to use.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Even the tallest occupants will have plenty of space up front, thanks to the Seat Tarraco's copious head room and seats that slide a long way back.
What’s more, each door bin is wide enough to take a large bottle of water and there are 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 gearlever.
All versions come with sliding and reclining second-row seats and, with these 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 Peugeot 5008’s second-row head room goes from average to frankly terrible when a panoramic roof is fitted.
Don’t expect palatial accommodation in the Tarraco’s third row seats, though; tallish teenagers and adults pretty much have to fold themselves in half to fit. If you need to carry up to seven adults on more than just the odd occasion, the Peugeot 5008 or Skoda Kodiaq will suit you better, while the massive Kia Sorento will be absolutely ace. By the way, the Tarraco's rear-most seats don't have Isofix child seat mountings, either.
Seat folding and flexibility
In addition to sliding back and forth, the second row of seats is split 40/20/40, so you can run skis or other long, slim items along the centre of the car and still carry rear passengers.
The two rearmost seats, meanwhile, are light and easy to fold, and lie flat enough that they don’t obstruct when loading heavy items.
In all three seat configurations, Tarraco boot space is a match for the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, but is beaten by the Sorento and 5008. In the real world, the Tarraco can accommodate eight carry-on-sized suitcases below its parcel shelf with five seats in use, while the Sorento and 5008 can swallow an impressive 10. The Sorento is more impressively roomy when the third row of seats are in use, too.
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.
Accessibility & Motability
Usability for people with disability or their carers
Motability - Access
Large SUVs such as the Seat Tarraco can make great Motability cars, as long as their extra height doesn’t make it more difficult for you to get in and out. The Tarraco’s driver’s seat, for example, is 706mm from the ground in its lowest setting, and 750mm in its highest setting, so it will pay to check first.
The rest of the Tarraco’s accessibility isn’t bad, however. The doors open to a 66-degree angle, so they stay pretty well out of the way when you’re getting yourself into the driver’s seat, while large door pulls located not far from the fronts of the doors are easy to reach from the driver’s seat.
The door openings themselves are huge, so you won’t have to crick your neck at all to get in under the top of the aperture.
There’s a vast amount of space around the driver’s seat, which is helpful when you’re getting in and making yourself comfy. The driver’s seat can also slide a long way backwards and forwards, so you should be able to find a driving position that works, whatever your size.
The tops of the door sills are 437mm from the ground, which isn’t actually that high for a large SUV (a BMW X3’s are almost 460mm from the road) and there’s only a 95mm drop to the Tarraco’s floor, which means there’s only a small step to negotiate as you get out.
Motability - Storage
If all seven seats are in use, a wheelchair is not going to fit in the boot. However, with the back two seats folded down and out of the way, a collapsed wheelchair will go in easily. Better still, so will a wheelchair that’s fully opened out – the Tarraco is seriously roomy.
There’s no boot lip to speak of, so sliding large items into and out is easy, although the 772mm height of the boot sill means you’ll have to lift stuff up quite a way to get it in there.
All five rear seats fold flat and leave a pretty big load area that’s getting on for two metres long and more than a metre wide at its narrowest.
Motability - Ease of use and options
Motability users have a choice of the 1.5-litre petrol engine or the 2.0-litre diesel, both of which are available with a slick-shifting automatic gearbox.
There’s good news when it comes to parking, too, because all models get rear parking sensors, while FR versions add a self-parking system.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Tarraco's starting price is a lot more expensive than that of the Citroën C5 Aircross, Mazda CX-5 and Skoda Kodiaq, and roughly the same as the Peugeot 5008's. It's competitively equipped, though (see below for more on that). The trouble is it's also predicted to depreciate a bit quicker than some rivals, including all of the above – the CX-5, by the way, has some of the best resale values in the large SUV class.
That may mean it's not always the most competitive on PCP finance, but that also depends on what finance deals are available at the time – check out deals pages to make sure.
Also, the Tarraco’s official fuel economy and CO2 figures aren’t as appealing as the equivalent C5 Aircross's and 5008’s, but they are in line with most other rivals. For the best company car tax, though, look instead at plug-in hybrids, such as the Ford Kuga PHEV.
Equipment, options and extras
You can't add options to the Tarraco but they all come bundled full of kit, including the entry-level SE trim, which is our favourite. It comes with 17in alloy wheels, three-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, metallic paint, power-folding door mirrors, and we've already discussed in previous sections the decent level of infotainment features, the LED headlights and the rear parking sensors that come as standard.
We reckon it’s only worth upgrading to SE Technology trim if you must have in-built sat-nav and a bigger infotainment screen (see the infotainment section for more details) because its only other additions are privacy glass and 18in alloy wheels.
FR trim has some nice additions including keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and a powered tailgate to go with the sporty styling additions, as well as electrically operated sports seats; it's worth thinking about if you don't mind a slightly firmer ride brought about by its bigger 19in alloy wheels. Any trim above that will have most of the equipment bases covered, but will also be quite expensive.
The Tarraco didn't perform particularly well in our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey, finishing a disappointing 12th out of 15 cars in the large SUV class. That puts it above the Land Rover Discovery Sport but behind almost every other rival including the Mazda CX-5 (second), Skoda Kodiaq (sixth) and Peugeot 5008 (ninth).
If anything does go wrong, you are covered by a three-year/60,000-mile manufacturer’s warranty; this is okay, but nowhere near as comprehensive as Kia’s industry-leading 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-star crash test rating, and it's pretty good in the categories looked at. For example, adult protection was similarly good to the Volvo XC40’s, which is one of the safest cars in the class. Child occupancy protection wasn't as good as the XC40's, though, but it proved safer for kids in the back than the CX-5.
It comes with lots of kit to help you avoid an accident in the first place, with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance, eCall emergency response and a driver drowsiness monitor all standard across the range. Blind spot detection isn't available, though, and that's a feature offered by a lot of the competition.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
|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?)||petrol, diesel|
|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|