We haven’t had a single dry day since the last update. Indeed, as I write this, we’re just emerging from some of the worst weather of the year, which is why the photographs show a particularly filthy SEAT Tarraco. Don’t worry, it will be washed, vacuumed and de-cluttered before it heads back to SEAT HQ, but the photos are an authentic representation of life with a family SUV. Despite what the brochures and advertisements show, such cars tend to spend much of their time dirty, storage bins crammed with the remnants of another takeaway, and boots filled with sports equipment, bags for life and wet weather gear.
Cutting to the chase, we’re going to miss the SEAT Tarraco. Although our previous Audi A4 long-termer still edges it in terms of outright appeal, the Tarraco is the best all-rounder we’ve been fortunate enough to borrow. Over the last couple of months in particular, it has been used and abused. One day it is carrying six young footballers to an away game, the next it is being taken on a family outing with the dog in the back. I guess that’s the raison d’être of the family SUV – accomplished in all areas, without excelling in a single department. In other words, the Alhambra remains superior to the Tarraco when judged as a proper seven-seater, but the MPV doesn’t offer the styling or dynamics of the SUV. Meanwhile, an estate car would still be first choice for load-lugging duties, but these lack the commanding driving position offered by SUVs. Dare I suggest that SUVs have a stronger image in 2019?
Defining premium is quite a challenge, but the SEAT Tarraco certainly feels upmarket. The waterlogged rear light cluster, A-pillar plastic cover and regular issues with the infotainment system have let the side down over the past six months, but the Tarraco has a more premium feel than the Skoda Kodiaq. The styling is sharp and understated, helped in no small part by the LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights. That said, the success of the styling is rather trim level dependant. On the M4, just the other day, I passed a Tarraco in basic SE trim. On 17-inch rather than our 19-inch alloy wheels, and without the more stylish grille, chrome window surrounds and chrome roof rails, the Tarraco looks plain, bordering on anonymous. On the inside, I adore the cloth and Alcantara seats, to the extent that I wouldn’t bother upgrading to the Xcellence Lux trim. Having said that, I still maintain that heated seats should be fitted to the Xcellence trim or at the very least available as an option.
Space is excellent, with enough room for five adults. The third row is best reserved for small children, but my U14s football players didn’t have too many complaints when they were asked to sit in the ‘cheap seats’. Being treated to a McDonald’s (after the match!) may have helped. Switching between five- and seven-seat mode is easy, and because the centre bench splits 60/40, it means that longer loads can be carried while retaining the use of four seats. Passengers also liked the trays and cupholders on the back of the front seats, while the door bins are large enough to hold a two-litre bottle of drink with room to spare. We never ran out of storage space.
Overall, it’s been a case of Xcellence by name and excellent by nature. In terms of what it sets out to do, the SEAT Tarraco delivers. It’s good to drive, easy to live with, well equipped and, even in the context of the Skoda Kodiaq, good value for money. For me, it’s the best car in the SEAT range – add it to your shortlist if you’re in the market for a 5+2 SUV with a genuine premium car feel. Now if you don’t mind, I need to grab a bucket and sponge before doing my best Kim and Aggie impression.
Date arrived 8th May 2019
Fuel economy 37.2-38.2mpg (combined) 37.9mpg (on test)
The digital cockpit is excellent and standard across the range.
Blank buttons where the heated seats switches should be. Boo!