UK Drive: The Seat Tarraco FR adds style to the seven-seat SUV segment

UK Drive: The Seat Tarraco FR adds style to the seven-seat SUV segment
UK Drive: The Seat Tarraco FR adds style to the seven-seat SUV segment
(Blackball Media)

Seat was a bit late to the pack when it came to introducing SUVs – launching the Ateca as its first in 2016, before quickly following it up with the more compact Arona in 2017 and larger Tarraco in 2019.

It’s the latter car we’re interested in here, and it’s now Seat’s only seven-seater on the market, following the discontinuation of the well-loved Alhambra MPV. A sibling model to the Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, the Spanish firm has now launched a sportier-looking FR trim level to the Tarraco, but is it worth considering.

(Blackball Media)

A Seat with an ‘FR’ badge once equated to more power, but just like ‘M Sport’ and ‘AMG Line’ it now primarily signifies a cosmetic makeover.

That’s true with the Tarraco, which gets the same engines as the rest of the line-up, but a raft of design changes inside and out to make it stand out further. We’ll explore more later, but highlights are front sports seats, gloss black elements and big 19-inch alloy wheels.

(Blackball Media)

The FR is available with the full suite of Tarraco engines, ranging from a 148bhp petrol through to a 242bhp engine that’s shared with the Volkswagen Golf GTI. There’s manual and automatic transmissions available too, along with front- or four-wheel-drive.

Our test car, however, gets the punchiest of the diesel engines on offer – a turbocharged 2.0-litre TDI unit that puts out 197bhp and 400Nm of torque. A seven-speed automatic is also used, along with ‘4Drive’, and the result is a 0-60mph time of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 130mph.

For a powerful four-wheel-drive diesel SUV, it’s not too bad on fuel either – with Seat claiming 42.8mpg (a figure we found to be easily achievable) and CO2 emissions of 172g/km.

(Blackball Media)

For a big seven-seater SUV, the Tarraco is really quite excellent from a driver’s perspective. It sticks to the road remarkably well, feeling agile through the bends and is quite entertaining to drive quickly. Seat always manages to make its cars feel that bit sportier than rivals, and this is no exception.

The trade-off is that the ride does sit on the firm edge of the spectrum, not feeling quite as comfortable as the Skoda Kodiaq, though it’s by no means unpleasant. This diesel engine is also a good match here, with its healthy levels of torque meaning the Tarraco offers plenty of shove when you want to get up to speed. We suspect that for most, though, the standard 148bhp diesel will be more than fast enough, while the DSG automatic gearbox can feel a bit hesitant at times – pulling out of junctions and when overtaking, for example.

Even in regular form, the Tarraco is already a smart-looking car, with its neat LED headlights, sharp but not over-the-top grille and full-width rear light bar giving it plenty of street cred.

If you want the most style, though, this FR trim is without doubt the one to go for. Adding new 19-inch alloy wheels and a more aggressive styling kit, incorporating twin exhaust trim, sportier bumpers and a larger spoiler, it’ll certainly get parents’ heads turning on the school run. You can go a step further with the FR Sport trim level too, which gets larger 20-inch alloy wheels, but we reckon it will be at the expense of further ride comfort.

(Blackball Media)

The interior also gets that sporty makeover, if not quite as prominently as the outside. There are some smart part leather sports seats, too, which get cool inserts in the front seatbacks. They look cool, but reckon the novelty of a child prodding you in the back would soon wear off..

The overall quality of the cabin is good throughout, while the digital dial display offers clear graphics and is easy to customise. The main touchscreen system, however, isn’t the slickest, with the main gripes being the lack of side shortcut buttons making it time consuming to switch between different menus.

As a seven-seater, that third row of seats is best reserved for children, as it will be tight for adults. Space in the middle row is excellent, though, while sliding rear seats are a big bonus. It’s perhaps not quite as practical as the Skoda Kodiaq, however, with a small boot lip to accommodate the rearmost seats being a touch inconvenient.

(Blackball Media)

In terms of the trim line-up, the FR sits above the regular SE Technology trim level, with a generous level of equipment included.

Full LED lighting, adaptive cruise control and keyless start are all fitted as standard, as is a useful electric boot, self-parking functionality and a 9.25-inch touchscreen. There are some slightly strange omissions, though – you’d really expect heated seats and a reversing camera to be fitted to a relatively high-spec SUV. If you’d like these two features, you have to upgrade to the FR Sport, which also brings leather upholstery and a 360-degree camera monitor.

In terms of price, the regular Tarraco starts from £31,980, but the FR comes in at £35,875. In this top-diesel form, it costs more than £42,000, which makes the Tarraco look expensive. Better value can be had with the standard 148bhp diesel, we reckon.

There’s plenty to like about this Seat Tarraco. With an enjoyable driving experience, it’s a family car that mums and dads can enjoy being behind the wheel of, while the sporty look in this FR trim adds to the appeal.

A good range of engine options and plenty of interior space (if not class-leading) should solidify on the shopping list of anyone looking for a seven-seat SUV, though we reckon the Tarraco would shine even brighter with a more affordable, less powerful engine under the bonnet.

  • Model: Seat Taracco
  • Price: £31,980
  • Model as tested: Seat Tarraco FR 2.0 TDI 4Drive 200PS DSG
  • Price as tested: £42,310
  • Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel
  • Power: 197bhp
  • Torque: 400Nm
  • 0-60mph: 7.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 130mph
  • Fuel economy: 40.4-42.8mpg
  • CO2 emissions: 172g/km