SEAT Tarraco FR 2.0

TDI SE 4Drive

Seat Tarraco, front action
Seat Tarraco, side action
Seat Tarraco, rear static
Seat Tarraco, dashboard
Seat Tarraco, rear seats
Seat Tarraco, boot 1

IT doesn't happen too often, but just sometimes a particular model stands out head and shoulders above its rivals.

In the crowded large SUV class, where profits are highest for its makers, such a car is the SEAT Tarraco, a tall and distinguished looking seven-seater, that blends ease of driving with some offroad capability and impressive luggage capacity.

Big brother to the Ateca, it possesses a flow of lines that makes it look smaller than its actual dimensions yet its general coherence and fluid styling makes it easy on the eye in a sector where ungainliness reigns.

As is the established norm among SUVs with towing capability, diesel is the fuel of choice not least for its prowess of torque and acceptable economy. The version driven here has a 2.0 litre, 197bhp, 4-cylinder lump which strikes a decent balance between frugality and power.

Accommodation in the Tarraco is at least as spacious as most rivals with huge amounts of shoulder room, ample leg space and sufficient height for even the tallest passenger.

With three rows of seats, in place there's still room for 230 litres of luggage, and with the final row folded, it can absorb no less than 700 litres of cargo. With the two rear rows of seats folded, the flat platform is cavernous and uninterrupted, though relatively high.

The cabin is comfortable and well laid out if a little unadventurous in dark shades with an abundance of plastic, much of which is soft-touch and easy to keep clean. Instruments and dials are recognisable from the VW parts bin, but we found the touch-sensitive heating controls an irritation - it was too easy to set them wrongly and it was necessary to take your eyes off the road to operate them.

You don't generally buy a large SUV for its rewarding driving experience - more its practicality and space. But the Tarraco steers better than most with a quick turn in on bends and takes the curves with surprising agility.

Roll levels are low and adhesion is impressive. It's a car that likes to be driven and responds eagerly to being pushed. Cornering roll is nicely controlled and the seats hold their occupants in place well.

Ride is fairly firm, certainly more so than many high riders, but bump suppression and road noise is excellent. Wind noise is also kept to a minimum which helps make the big SEAT a first class refined long-distance cruiser. Of course, there's a distant drone from the diesel power unit but this quite muted and intrudes only slightly into the cabin.

For such a large vehicle, its lack of appetite for fuel is impressive. Most owners will easily get around 40mpg - our own average was 41.3mpg.

Among the standard equipment on the SE version are black roof rails, roof spoiler, sports seats, aluminium front door sills, keyless entry, self-parking system, 19-inch alloys and sat nav. You must upgrade for leather seating and electric tailgate.

FAST FACTS

SEAT Tarraco FR 2.0 TDI SE 4Drive

Price: £41,185

Mechanical: 2.0-litre, 197bhp, 4 cyl diesel engine driving 4 wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 130mph

0-62mph: 7.8sec

Combined MPG: 42.8

Insurance Group: 27

C02 emissions: 172g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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