Hauling my 24ft caravan 250 miles to the New Forest seemed a straight forward enough task for a seven seat SUV until I read the pre delivery spec for the Seat Tarraco.
Surely a three-cylinder 1.5 petrol was a mistake? Towbars are always matched with a diesel and Seat has an able 2-litre in its armoury. A call to Katie in the Seat press office confirmed I was getting the petrol model…and to stop worrying!
I know this engine well from various Seat, Volkswagen and Skoda test cars but didn’t figure it as a capable tow car. Did I need to be bothered? Of course not it towed like a dream, cruising effortlessly and with a good punch of acceleration on climbs. Humble pie eaten.
Modern day automatics are the best solution for towing taking away the drudgery of constant gear changing and tricky hill starts and the Tarraco’s seven speed DSG was always in the right gear at the right time.
Most of the drive was dual carriageway and motorway and Tarraco was always stable in crosswinds and while overtaking big artics when you can be troubled with sway. Oh I did like towing with this car.
If there was a downside it was economy. For a while we were ticking over at around 24mpg but a check at journeys end showed just over 22mpg. The 2-litre diesel would probably have managed 27-28mpg but then diesel costs more so the difference is marginal.
That’s towing done and dusted but how does Tarraco measure up in everyday life? Seven seats tells you it is a big car but it does not drive like a big car. Seat has always been the sporty arm in the VAG group so it drives a little firmer than its Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan AllSpace cousins although they share the same platform and mechanicals.
This is good because Tarraco stays tight through twisting and undulating roads and we came across plenty driving around the New Forest. It does not absorb bumps quite as well as Kodiaq or the seven seat Peugeot 5008 but is only a minor point.
Inside is practical rather than eye catching with a clear digital driver’s binnacle which includes a central block for information or a small navigation screen all easily selected from steering wheel buttons.
The central 8in touchscreen sits high so is in the driver’s eye line and although there are lots of menus and sub menus they are easy to fathom and helped by short cut buttons. The graphics are sharp and quick to respond.
Tarraco has been thoughtfully designed as a big family car with sensible touches like door bins big enough to take things like a litre bottle, pop up tables on the front seat backs so children can do what they do to while away the time on long journeys. There are Isofix points on the front passsenger seat and the outer seats on the middle row but not in the third row where children are likely to sit.
That third row is best suited for children because space is tight for an adult and headroom is not that great although a grown up could cope with a short journey. The only car in the class that can take adults comfortably is the Kia Sorento.
Tarraco does well for load space with the third row folded and even has room for a couple of carry on cases with all seats in play. Try Kodiaq if more space is needed for family holiday clutter.
The Spaniard does well when it comes to value for money although it would do even better if it was offered as a five seater which it is not. There are six trim levels with entry SE good for LED headlights, 8in touchscreen, digital cockpit and smartphone integration among the highlights. Moving up to SE Technology gives navigation but push the boat out to Xcellence Lux and you will want for nothing in luxury or safety.
If you are wondering about the name it is not just a jumble of letters. Seat is proud of its Spanish heritage and has named its cars accordingly since birth – Marbella, Toledo, Alhambra, Ibiza and so it goes on. Tarraco is the original name for Tarragona, a beautiful city I know well with its ancient amphitheatre overlooking the Mediterranean.
Tarraco Xcellance Lux
£35,970 (starts £29,155)
1.5 litre TSI turbo; 148bhp
0-62mph 9.5secs; 124mph
171g/km. 1st VED £870
Boot: 230; 700; 1775 litres
Towing capacity 2000kg
Insurance group 21