So as if by chance, the time during which my wife was looking at heading on holidays, I was due to have the all-new SEAT Tarraco on loan for review.
However, it begs the question of where does a red-headed, fair-skinned motoring writer like to holiday?
Unfortunately not the Spanish name sake of this car, instead, the good old UK. A place where you can be sure of some sun, but not enough that someone of my complexion would struggle.
Due to traveling as a family with two young children, we opted to utilise this, the largest SUV that SEAT offer, to do a road-trip. Enabling us to accommodate our need for packing everything but the kitchen sink.
How anyone can justify the cost of a foreign package holiday is beyond me, I’d certainly not like to be paying for the excess baggage with all that you would need to bring for a trip with twins.
Finally, after months of research, mostly by the wife. We had our plan!
A combination of Stena Line ferries, affordable hotels and quirky air b&b’s meant that all that was left was to shoehorn two weeks’ worth of luggage, travel cots, car seats and a double buggy into the Tarraco before setting off to the port of Belfast.
I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised at how easily this large SUV absorbed everything I could bring out of the house to put in it. It was like water to a sponge I guess.
An early autumn evening was upon us and we headed to Belfast docks to make the first part of our journey via Stena Line on the overnight sailing to Liverpool.
Once aboard, we disembarked our packed to capacity SEAT and settled into our family cabin, which was warm and comfortable. En-suite facilities allowed us to freshen up after our bright-and-breezy 5am wake-up call.
The Tarraco is a family focused SUV which seats seven. For this trip we folded the compact third row of seats to allow for extra luggage space. Although for use as a seven seater, the rear most seats would allow two children, perhaps even teenagers, space to travel in comfort.
As a five seater, it proved to be comfortable for our family of four even though the two baby seats do take up a good amount of room. Generally speaking, when I fit these particular seats into a press car, the front seats need moved forward so much the vehicle becomes cramped and terribly uncomfortable. Thankfully not the case with the SEAT Tarraco. Cabin space for passenger and driver allowed a bright roomy environment.
The seats and fabric in this Xcellence model offered a mix of well bolstered and supportive tweed and alcantara. Covering some 900 miles over the course of two weeks, the only thing I would add to the interior of this test vehicle would be heated seats.
During our stay, the weather was incredibly kind to us and I was glad that this model is fitted with dual climate control as part of the package. It’s almost unheard of to be wearing shorts and a T-shirt in Northern Ireland mid-September, so we made the most of it while we could.
As we were travelling around to various locations we had earmarked to visit, the sat- nav was generally very helpful, although I would say that it was slightly delayed at times with it’s a voice commands, often giving the directions after you were passed the junction.
As mentioned before, we travelled over 900 miles from home to Liverpool, through to Alton (yes of the towers variety), then Nottingham, a most random little place named Ulgham, Edinburgh (the Zoo is a MUST SEE if ever you find yourself in the city) and home via a pit-stop in Glasgow before the Cairnryan to Belfast ferry.
Interestingly, the model tested was not fitted with a big and noisy diesel engine, nor was it fitted with a lacklustre petrol engine. It was in fact fitted with the perfectly potent 1.5 TSI Evo engine, producing just shy of 150bhp, it is capable propelling this larger-than-life family vehicle to 62mph in less than 10 seconds.
Not quite as fast as the ride in Alton Towers which propelled us to 60mph in a mere 2.5 seconds!
That said, such mind-boggling statistics on a vehicle like this, would not return the 36mpg we saw over considerable mileage and mixed driving.
Various driving modes allow for a customised set-up, or if one of three pre-set modes suits your needs, then all the better for it. Handling wise I would have no complaints, it was smooth and comfortable on the motorway yet firm enough on country road inspire confidence.
The 6-speed manual gearbox fitted to this model is one that would feel more at home in a much lesser model such as an entry-level Ibiza. For me, if I was ordering a SEAT Tarraco new, I would most certainly up for a DSG gearbox.
Starting at £28,230, the SE model comes equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, full colour media system, digital cockpit and rear parking sensors.
Next up, the SE Technology adds 18-inch alloy wheels, an 8-inch navigation system and rear privacy glass with prices starting from £29,260.
The model tested as mentioned before is an XCELLENCE which starts from £30,320 and includes 19-inch alloy wheels, alcantara sports seats and park assist.
A range topping XCELLENCE Lux gives you 20inch alloy wheels, winter pack which includes heated leather upholstery and the top view camera, this model starts from £32,080.
Compared to the likes of Hyundai’s Santa-Fe, which starts from £33,450, the SEAT Tarraco makes sense financially as well as winning in the beauty pageant too.
Fact File for model tested
Make : SEAT
Model : Tarraco
Trim : Xcellence
Engine : 1.5 TSi EVO (petrol)
Gearbox : 6-speed manual
Cost : £30,425
Words & Photos: GRAHAM BAALHAM-CURRY
[images must not be used in any way without prior written consent of the photographer]