Seat Tarraco 1.5 TSi EVO

seat tarraco lr


By Tim Saunders

This week I test the Seat Tarraco; a sports utility vehicle. It’s high up and can also transport seven occupants in comfort.

From a distance this atlantic blue model looks just like a Skoda or VW but with Seat badging. But on closer inspection, unfortunately it’s not up to their standard of build quality. The driver’s seat isn’t as supportive; my back complaining after a 70-mile trip to Sherborne in Dorset. The six-speed manual gearbox is notchy. And don’t get me started on the sat nav.

Fortunately, I know where Sherborne is but the sat nav doesn’t. As always I give it the benefit of the doubt but when it keeps making mistakes I get fed up. When it tells me to turn off the A31 I think it must know a cunning short cut that I don’t and I’ve been driving this route for over 25 years. I quickly realise it doesn’t and curse as we get stuck in yet more traffic. It comes to something when my very cheap sat nav, purchased online for £20, is actually more reliable. When my wife inputs our destination once again the Seat system still insists on sending us back the way we’ve just come. Thank goodness I’m obstinate. Eventually it simmers down and when it suggests taking us down the A357 I relent. 

These roads are some of the steepest and bumpiest I have driven on for some time but the Tarraco handles it well and its height provides wonderful views of the lush green fields to the left and right. Heidi (7) and Henry (4) are sitting in the third row of seats in the boot while Harriett (7) has opted for peace and quiet in the middle row. I can see why large vehicles like this work well for families. The seats themselves are finished in olot black cloth with alacantara giving the interior a bland but practical finish. In economy mode it is a slow vehicle. The cruise control, in common with all VWs, can be found on the stalk to the left of the steering wheel and if it’s pushed just a little too vigorously the indicator goes off, which is annoying to say the least and unnerving for oncoming motorists. However, it seems fairly reliable but when travelling through Dorset villages with their obligatory speed cameras I set it at no more than 28mph to ensure I don’t get fined. The digital speedometer takes a bit of getting used to especially when taken in conjunction with reading road signs and anticipating other motorists. I just cannot get on with the layout. There’s no 30 on the reading and this is probably the most important speed. After driving it for sometime I then discover that there is an exact speed reading underneath the 160mph. It’s just not logical. I don’t like it.

The electric handbrake is another hurdle for me. I like a traditional handbrake because I can easily operate it, it’s obvious that it isn’t left on when driving and it can be relied upon. It might be easy enough to unlock the electric one but when I want to double check half way through a journey whether in fact I have done this or not, I can’t so I have to let this thought slip and hope for the best. I also don’t like the way the Tarraco rolls down our driveway despite the auto hold button being on. In fact it also rolls back when stuck in countless traffic jams. Again another black mark. 

We decide to visit my mother-in-law, who lives 37 miles away in Dorset and due to sheer weight of traffic and roadworks it takes us 2 hours and 22 minutes. Absolutely ridiculous. In these technological times I would hope that even if the sat nav is not on that the system might still update the poor motorist and guide them away from mind numbingly boring traffic jams. Surely someone’s invented this by now. In fact the day before we travelled the 70 mile journey to Sherborne faster. What’s more the crawling traffic is a recipe for road rage, which we witness.

Perhaps it’s just unfortunate but then on a journey back from Romsey, just 30 miles away from home, there is a vehicle fire on the M27 that shuts both junctions 8 and 9 and brings most of Hampshire to a standstill. It takes us 2 hours to return home. Just what you need after a long day out. 

On another occasion we take the Tarraco to the deepest darkest parts of Somerset on an outing to Hestercombe near Taunton. On both directions the sat nav insists that there’s four miles of queuing traffic on the A36 heading towards Salisbury. I give it the benefit of the doubt on the outward journey but find that all it does is take us on a detour via some country lanes only to lead us back to the worst part of the A36 where there are always traffic jams. Absolutely useless. It is one of the worst sat navs I have come across.

The Tarraco’s saving grace is its height because on our return trip there is torrential flooding that causes some roads to be completely impassable for some motorists. However, thankfully the Tarraco takes what is probably approaching two feet of water, in its stride. And for that I am grateful because we do see some breakdowns of new and old cars as a result of the flood water.

Facts at a glance:
Seat Tarraco 1.5 TSi EVO
Price: £29,670
Power: 150bhp
CO2 emissions: 151g/km
Economy: 43mpg during the test, careful driving often at 56mph
0-60mph: 9.7secs
Top speed: 125mph



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