By Bill McCarthy
SEAT has long been known as the sporty looking arm of the VW family, featuring sharp, angular styling with natty trim flourishes and smartly-designed light clusters and alloy wheels.
So the trick for the Spanish-based firm was to adapt to the rising demand for crossover/SUVs.
With the Arona, then the Ateca and then the flagship Tarraco it has achieved this with practicality and some élan.
The Tarraco, says the firm, is designed for drivers who need the usefulness of a seven-seater and the practicality of a higher driving position but are conscious of a vehicle’s aesthetics and appreciate the balance between self-confidence, elegance and sportiness.
Market speak I know, but you can see what they are getting at with sculptured exterior design, high end interior and impressive selection of power units, this case a lively two litre unit. (There are three petrol and two diesel variants on offer)
The Tarraco – named after the old name for the Spanish port of Tarragona – is a big seven seat motor a flagship in all respects with high quality fixtures and fittings.
Very importantly it has a huge cargo area, with from 230 litres with seats in situ, to 700 litres with the rearmost folded and 1,775 with all the seats folded, which makes it hugely practical. There are also plenty of other pockets and cubby holes throughout.
A big car, but not cheap and cheeful as they start at just over £28k with this model nearly £34k. Having said that the range topper driven here is packed with bells, whistles and gizmos found on motors costing considerably more.
It does look good with sporty grille design flanked by angular LED technology headlights, which, says SEAT, retains the company’s triangular signature. Add to this ultra-smart alloy wheels, integrated roof bars and raked bonnet and it is perhaps the sportiest looking SUV to be found.
The interior more than matches the outside with elegance and practicality and a mixture of soft and hard touch plastic trim.
Like many, the traditional dash and dials is more of a 12.8 inch wide ‘cockpit’ , with a touch screen controlling major functions.
Five are seated comfortably, with adjustable, Alcantara trimmed powered seats at the front on this model.
There is ample head and legroom, but less so for the third row which are cramped.
The connectivity and infotainment system are controlled via a pretty much eye-level ‘floating’ screen. This is the brains controlling navigation system, music and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone and wireless connectivity where fitted.
On the road the 150PS diesel is a refined and impressive performer, meaning the sporty looks are complemented by the sporty performance. Mated to a slick six speed manual box. It hits 60mph in just under seconds. For a more engaging driver, you can select Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual setting to alter driving dynamics.
There is little evidence of diesel clatter and the cabin is a quite place to be with little wind or road noise. Handling is surprisingly good, dynamic even, for such a big car and feels agile, with sharp, weighted steering and the suspension soaking up the worst our roads have to offer.
Safety kit is comprehensive with stability control and complement of airbags. front assist with bicycle detection, lane assist, tiredness recognition and emergency call as standard throughout the range, while this range topper includes park assist, electric tailgate with virtual pedal and top view camera system.
It’s a worthy flagship with smart looks, huge practicality and, considering the equipment a decent price.
SEAT Tarraco XCELLENCE Lux 2.0 TDI 150PS
Mechanical: 150ps, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 126mph
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Combined mpg: 47
Insurance group: 25E
CO2 emissions: 129g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles