Along road trip is a chance to develop an intimate understanding of a car. While a lengthy drive is many people’s idea of hell, I relish the opportunity to spend some quality time behind the wheel, which is why I jumped at the chance to tackle a 600-mile round trip at the weekend. A roast dinner in Lincolnshire was the star prize, sandwiched between two five-hour stints in the SEAT Tarraco – lovely stuff.
The Tarraco is most at home on the motorway. Excellent seats, a high driving position and an extremely effective adaptive cruise control system helped to ease away the first 140 miles to Gloucester Services. The one criticism, and something I’ve mentioned before, is the woeful hesitancy of the DSG transmission when the car is in Eco mode. Plant your right foot and there’s a significant delay while the gearbox works out what it needs to do, which at times is frustrating, and occasionally bordering on dangerous when you’re using a slip road to join a busy motorway. I switch to Sport, or Individual, when driving in town or approaching roundabouts and junctions. My wife dislikes Eco mode so much, it’s the first thing she changes when she jumps into the driver’s seat. We’re prepared to sacrifice a little fuel economy for a more engaging driving experience.
Speaking of which, from Gloucester, I resisted the navigation system’s suggestion to continue along the M5 and switch onto the M6, and instead took the A46 to the M69. Here, the succession of roundabouts between Tewksbury and Coventry tested the Tarraco’s sporting credentials, to the point of trying (and failing) to keep pace with a Jaguar XF Sportbrake for a good few miles. Predictably, an SUV is no match for an estate car’s prowess, but body roll is kept in check and there’s bags of grip. In fact, the suspension provides a great balance of ride and handling: it’s far from sporty, but it’s reassuring and inspires confidence. That said, a brief flirtation with the paddles was met with disappointment – the DSG transmission is best left in automatic mode.
Problems experienced during the drive? The infotainment system froze a few times, rendering the navigation system useless and leaving no access to the media player. The one blessing is that the controls for the climate control sit below the screen, so even when the system freezes, I can still warm things up. The same can’t be said of my bottom as the temperatures drop, I still bemoan SEAT’s decision to omit heated seats from the Xcellence trim. I’d expect them to be standard on a car of this price – a view shared by a Tarraco owning reader. Mind you, Mr Martin lives in a remote glen in the Highlands of Scotland, so his needs are greater than mine.
Finally, I did so many miles this month, the traditional AdBlue countdown to empty has been and gone. No dramas – the AdBlue is filled up via a top-up cap next to the fuel filler. I reckon 9,000 miles before needing fluid is a good result, too.
Date arrived 8th May 2019
Fuel economy 37.2-38.2mpg (combined) 37.9mpg (on test)
The adaptive cruise control is excellent.
The seats most certainly aren’t hot!