Globally, ‘Euro’ SUVs are forging ahead in the desirability charts, while closer to home, New Zealand is positioned well ahead of the curve in both overall SUV ownership and those younger (sub-40-year olds) that buy them. It’s these three facts that when combined, really put SEAT and their new SUV into the box seat.
It’s safe to say that for quite a while now, Spanish carmaker SEAT has been really turning heads. They have good looking vehicles that offer European desirability and class, yet come shrouded in youthful vibrancy. Now they’ve added another SUV seat to their table (well, seven in fact) and it’s called the Tarraco.
Referencing the ancient name of Tarragona (a town located in northeast España) and coming from a brand that’s synonymous with the country itself, the SEAT Tarraco is undoubtedly Spanish; however, its finger-snapping, toe-tapping Flamenco roots don’t stop there.
The SEAT Tarraco offers two spritely beating hearts, a 1.4L 110kW and a 2L 140kW, both TSIs (petrol-only here baby), and a total of three model variants: Style, Xcellence and Xcellence 4Drive. I spent the majority of my time in the latter, so that’s what I’ll stick with.
Although aimed at the medium-sized SUV market, at a shade over 4.7m long and nearly 1.7m tall the Tarraco isn’t exactly what you’d call medium. However, its narrow shield-like grille and recessed angry-bull LED headlights and DRLs seem to proportion the vehicle well. Its profile is bold and artistically designed, thankfully not by Dali, and it sits well on very bright 19-inch shoes. The rear tailgate is electric and ‘kick opening’ for ease of use, allowing access to 1,775L of ‘seat down’ luggage space.
The interior is progressive and well-connected. Its upbeat attitude and modern styling are easy on the eye and very easy to get along with. The eight-inch infotainment is touchscreen and very interactive, smart-phone connection is simple and quick with a raft of apps, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, navigation and cool sounds that can be made cooler still with a Beats upgrade. The 10.25-inch instrument cluster (the dials behind the steering wheel) is completely digital and comes with ‘virtually’ (see what I did there) endless options to suit you, the driver. From traditional dials to a more sportier look, full-on maps or a minimalistic ‘just the facts’ numbers, your car, your rules.
The seats are funky breathable fabric framed in soft Alcantara, they’re electrically adjustable and heated of course. The second row of seats are spacious and the outside two are heated, while the bonus of the two pop-ups in the rear offer around town flexibility, but I’d say were a little bit cramped for bigger people on longer runs (maybe fine for yoga enthusiasts?).
I took to the mean streets of Auckland’s North Shore and put it to the test of both family chores, including Saturday football, followed by some exploratory longer-runs, aka daddy wants some alone time. The Tarraco’s interior space ensured all family members and gear travelled to the game with room to spare and the pop-up tray tables on the rear of the front seats were used to draw last-minute tactics on. The heated seats helped save time on warm-ups and keyless entry and push-button start-stop ensured my hands remained warm in my pockets until really required.
In comfort mode, the Tarraco goes down as smooth as an ice-cold Sangria on a blisteringly hot summer’s day and when the drive mode dial is turned to Sport, just as fast. Nought to one hundred comes in at around eight seconds but in this stylish SUV it somehow seems quicker. It dances well on the road and hugs long corners with more confidence than this driver.
My 4Xcellence 4Drive also had three other drive modes up its sleeve to play with too: Eco, which will apparently have the SEAT sipping fuel at a mere 7.1L/100km and emit its sweet fragrant gasses at a rate of 166g/km. Individual, where, just like the instrument cluster, you get to chose things like steering and acceleration. Off-road, for when you intentionally want to get off the tarmac, and Snow/Ice mode, for when you intentionally want to stay on the tarmac.
Should things go wrong, the Terraco’s got your best interests in mind: 5-Star Euro NCAP, ASR, ABS, ESC, XDS, Emergency brakes, pre-crash seatbelt tensioners, roll-over protection and more bags than those seen hanging under my eyes.
Spain has produced a whole raft of fine, world-leading specialities. From eye-catching images from Dali, tapas and paella, to Flamenco and even the dance tunes of Ibiza, however, now they have something else to add to the list: the Tarraco. A happy and stylish seven-seater SUV that has the looks and adventurous spirit that will continue to enchant their young in body and mind audience.