Our first look at the SEAT Tarraco in New Zealand
Globally, ‘Euro’ SUVs are forging ahead when it comes to the desirability charts, while a little closer to home, locally, 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. Well 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 North East Espana) and coming from a brand that’s synonymous with the country itself, the SEAT Tarraco is undoubtedly and unquestionably 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 TSI’s, 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 DRL’s 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 8-inch infotainment is touch-screen 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, sounds that can actually be made cooler too 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 2nd row of seats are spacious and the outside two are heated, while the ‘bonus’ of the two pop-ups in the rear, 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. 0-100 comes in at around 8s but in this stylish SUV it somehow seems quicker. Its dances well on the road and hugs long corners with more confidence than this driver.
My 4 Xcellence 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 emitting 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, when you intentionally want to get OFF the tarmac and Snow/Ice mode, when you intentionally want to stay ON the tarmac.
Should things go disasterly wrong, the Tarraco’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 that those seen hanging under my eyes.
Spain has produced a whole raft of fine. Eye-catching things from Dali, Tapa’s and Flamenco to Paella, and Ibiza dance tunes and 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 to continue to enchant their young in body and mind audience.