Tarraco's good prospects in crowded SUV market
First Drive: SEAT Tarraco
In just two years SEAT has gone from having no crossover SUVs in its line-up to boasting a complete set.
Arriving in January, the Tarraco is the brand's new flagship, positioned above the Arona and Ateca, and comes with a choice of five or seven seats.
Based on the same version of the MQB-A platform as the Skoda Kodiaq, it also shares more than a passing resemblance to it.
Sales of large crossovers have doubled in the last five years, and SEAT expects a further 40pc growth by 2025.
The Tarraco comes in two trims with prices starting from €34,700 for the SE range, and €39,885 for the Xcellence.
There will be both a sporty FR version and a plug-in hybrid model with an anticipated 50km electric driving range by 2020.
Costing €1,000 more than the five-seater, SEAT expects most people to opt for the seven-seat version. While the third row is only for small people, the only other compromise - apart from a slightly smaller fuel tank - is that with the seats flat, boot space drops by 60 litres to a still spacious 700.
The interior has a new centrally mounted 8in floating infotainment display complementing one of the key selling points - the Digital Cockpit (standard), which allows you to switch between three different displays.
Interior space is generous. If you're not using the third row you can slide and recline the second row of seats to create ample room to accommodate five adults.
At launch there will be a 1.5 and 2.0 petrol and a 2.0 litre diesel with 150PS or 190PS. The 150PS petrol comes only with a manual gearbox and front wheel drive, whereas the 190PS has a 7spd DSG auto transmission and 4Drive all-wheel drive.
You can choose between FWD/manual gearbox or 4WD/auto gearbox with the 150PS diesel, whereas the 190PS version is 4WD/auto transmission only.
Only the more powerful versions were available to drive at the launch in Spain. It was interesting, though, that the petrol was by some way the nicer car, more refined and considerably quieter.
The diesel felt surprisingly lethargic and notably noisy under acceleration. Neither version was particularly economical - the petrol averaging 8.8l/100km (32 mpg) and the diesel 8.1 l/100km (34.8 mpg).
No major stand-out points either way on how it rides and handles. The Tarraco is neutrally pleasant to drive, gripping fairly strongly with not too much body roll.
It comes with various driving modes, but switching between Comfort and Sport didn't change much.
Customers will typically be young families, but SEAT presented a promo video at the launch showing an older couple enjoying the Tarraco as part of an active lifestyle.
With competitive pricing, generous space and standard features such as the Digital Cockpit, 18in alloys and LED headlights, the Tarraco has a more than reasonable chance of successfully standing out in a rather crowded marketplace.