Firm ride aside, this is a well equipped and very capable tow car.
The ride is a little firm for comfortable solo driving
The Tarraco is Seat’s largest SUV, and a close relative of the Škoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace.The seven-seater Tarraco has a healthy kerbweight, four-wheel-drive and a strong diesel engine. In Xcellence spec, it’s very well equipped and competitively priced.
Seat is the Volkswagen Group’s sporty brand. How has that affected the Tarraco’s towing ability? Is the Seat as practical as a seven-seater should be, and does it offer something its competitors don’t?
The big Seat continued to impress when we moved on to A-roads and motorways. It felt very secure and fully in control
We’ve been towing with the most powerful diesel Tarraco. It’s also the heaviest model in the range, with a kerbweight of 1845kg. That’s a healthy figure; although if you’re looking for an SUV to tow a big twin-axle caravan, it’s worth noting that the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento are both heavier.
We hitched the Tarraco up to a Swift Fairway Platinum 530 with a MiRO of 1375kg, and drove on country roads, A-roads and motorways. With a beefy 295lb ft of torque to call on, the Seat was unfazed by the additional weight of the caravan behind it. However, on hilly routes, we found it worthwhile shifting the gearbox from ‘drive’ to ‘sport’, because otherwise it was too keen to hold a high gear.
In ‘sport’ it held lower gears for longer, and changed down more promptly when accelerating. Hill starts should really play to an SUV’s strengths, and that proved to be the case with the Tarraco. The electronic parking brake held firm, and we were able to pull away on the damp 1-in-10 slope with no strain or wheelspin.
The big Seat continued to impress when we moved on to A-roads and motorways. At 60mph, the Tarraco felt very secure, and fully in control of the caravan. Gusts of wind didn’t push the car off course, and there was never more than a slight fidget overtaking high-sided vehicles.
Driving on motorways, the gearbox’s determination to stay in a high gear wasn’t the irritation that it was on country roads, and we had no difficulty maintaining the legal limit. When we arrived at the campsite, the Tarraco was easy to manoeuvre at low speeds. The reversing camera (standard on Xcellence spec) helped when hitching up.
Seat has chosen a relatively firm suspension set-up for the Tarraco, which is likely to contribute to the car’s stability in towing. But in everyday driving, we’d rather it was more supple on rough roads.
The Tarraco thumps noisily into potholes and speed bumps. It feels better at higher speeds, but still on the stiff side, and you’re jostled around on poorly surfaced Tarmac. Corner enthusiastically and the Tarraco resists body roll and stays neat and tidy, but is not particularly agile or entertaining.
It is at its best on A-roads and motorways. Wind and road noise are kept in check, and although the diesel can sound gruff if revved hard, it’s quiet once cruising.
Not so much a tale of two halves as three thirds, the Seat is roomy and comfortable if you are in the first or second row. Seats six and seven are a lot more cramped. There’s lots of head- and legroom in the front of the car, and sufficient adjustment for short and tall drivers to find a sound driving position and a clear view out.
The car feels solidly screwed together, although it’s a shame that the interior is so similar to that of the equivalent Škoda and VW – a bit more Spanish flair wouldn’t go amiss here, we think.
Sober-looking it may be, but there’s plenty of sensible thinking in the layout of the cabin. For example, the middle row of seats slides back and forth on runners and the backrests recline. With the seats all the way back, there’s more than enough legroom for adults, and it’s good to see air vents, separate temperature controls, a USB socket and a 12V socket between the front seats. However, the third row of seats offers little space. It’s best suited to children who are tall enough to no longer require a child seat (there are no ISOFIX mounting points) but still shorter than the average adult.
With the middle row moved forward, legroom in the back is more tolerable, but it’s rather robbing Peter to pay Paul. Space in the boot is also predictably tight when all seven seats are in place, but there’s loads of room with the third row folded away. There’s space to store the parcel shelf under the boot floor if loading to the ceiling – another thoughtful feature.
The list price is competitive, especially when you consider the standard kit in Xcellence spec – adaptive cruise control, digital cockpit, sat nav, DAB radio, eight-inch touchscreen, smartphone integration and three-zone climate control are included. A tyre repair kit is standard, but a space-saver spare can be fitted for £115.
Fuel economy is good, rather than great. We saw 26.3mpg while towing. Resale values are strong: What Car? predicts you would get back 47% of the price after three years and 36,000 miles. The Tarraco has a five-star rating from Euro NCAP.
|Maximum Towing Limit
|295 lb ft