Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Two petrol and two diesel engines
  • A choice of manual and DSG transmission
  • Entry-level petrol auto can struggle under load

The SEAT Tarraco comes with a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines. Helpfully, there’s 150hp and 190hp versions of each fuel, so picking the one for you shouldn’t be too tricky a task.

Diesel engines

The diesels available in the Tarraco are familiar 2.0-litre TDI units – with a choice of 150hp or 190hp. Go for the 150hp version and you’ll get a choice of a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive, or seven-speed DSG automatic and 4Drive all-wheel drive. Both versions of the 150hp engine get from 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds which will be quick enough for most, and the manual gearbox is particularly slick and easy to use. A 340Nm torque figure helps with strong overtaking performance, as long as you’re in the right gear.

The 190hp/400Nm 2.0-litre TDI is comes exclusively with 4Drive and a seven-speed DSG gearbox, and will complete the 0-62mph sprint in 8.0 seconds, proving usefully more rapid when getting up to speed. In action, though, it can feel very sluggish when pulling away from junctions or at roundabouts, needing a good prod of the throttle to get the car moving – especially as it can try to move away in second gear when in Normal driving mode.

Petrol engines

The two petrols available are a 1.5-litre TSI with 150hp and 250Nm, and a 190hp 2.0-litre TSI. The 1.5-litre is the most popular engine for the Tarraco, and as with other cars we’ve tried with this engine, it’s smooth and refined. Performance is stronger than you might expect with a 9.7-second 0-62mph time of the manual version (and 9.5 seconds for the DSG auto), but the lack of torque compared with the diesels means it doesn't have great pulling power when loaded up with passengers and/or luggage/climbing steep hills.

We spent a 1,000-mile week in one, and that lack of go does become a bit of a chore in this situation. This is compounded by a lazy automatic transmission that is sluggish to respond in Eco mode, and a little too eager to drop gears in Sport mode. In which case, it's either too relaxing or not relaxing enough.

There’s slightly stronger performance from the 190hp petrol, with a 0-62mph time of 8.0 seconds – matching the 190hp TDI. However, with 320Nm of torque, it’s down on low-down shove compared with that car, which can be noticeable when loaded up with passengers. The DSG gearbox can also make it feel a little sluggish like it can in the diesel.

Does it deliver sporty performance?

You’d imagine that even in such a relative large car, the degree of gusto from the 190 TSI and TDI engines would bless the Tarraco with punchy pace – yet somehow both conspire to not feel especially quick.

It’s more pronounced in the petrol version, an engine that has to be worked hard to extract the most from it. Left to its own devices the transmission will momentarily consider its next move before flicking down a couple of gears even after the merest caress of the accelerator, delivering a surge of additional speed even if you only wanted a gentle rise in alacrity.

That makes the TDI the more obvious choice of this pair, primarily courtesy of its low-down pulling power: 400Nm from 1,750rpm compared with 320Nm at 1,500 to 4,200rpm for the TSI.

Not only does it make getaways from standing starts as well as overtaking manoeuvres feel more assured, it also helps overcome the effects of the transmission’s hesitancy quicker.

Those who want a truly sporty Tarraco may well opt to wait until later in 2020 when both a 245hp plug-in hybrid and the gussied-up FR version arrive.

How does it handle?

  • Firmer setup than the Skoda Kodiaq
  • Body control is impressive
  • No adaptive suspension options

According to SEAT, the Tarraco’s been set-up to feel more engaging to drive than its closest seven-seater rivals, with steering and suspension set-up tailored to the Spanish brand’s zesty ethos.

There’s something in this, because the Tarraco’s steering turns into corners sharply, with a decent amount of communication about what the front wheels are up to – although its weighting is on the light side, even in Sport mode.

Similarly, bodyroll is kept tidily in check, in part because the suspension's 20mm lower than the Kodiaq’s, hunkering it down a bit.

It’s best to think of the Tarraco as being an SUV for keen drivers – at least compared with the Volkswagen and Skoda – rather than a sporty car that happens to have seven seats. Certainly in FR trim with the larger wheels and lower-profile tyres offered as standard, it feels very quick and responsive in the the bends.

While this is all well and good in terms of feeling assured and responsive for such a large car on a smooth, twisting road, the combination of 20-inch alloy wheels on higher-spec models and less-than-perfect surfaces of UK roads means the Tarraco can tend to fidget and fuss more than we'd like.

It’s never uncomfortable – far from it – but it’s worth trying the Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace if your priority is outright comfort. It’s also worth noting that the Tarraco doesn’t come with an adaptive suspension option in the UK, like the Skoda and VW.