Seat Tarracco FR 4Drive review: the cool Spanish seven-seater... that's made in Germany
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Seat Tarracco FR 4Drive
- Sharp looking for a family seven-seater
- Sprightly engine and chassis
- Better interior than Tiguan or Kodiaq
- Not hard to push price up to $70k
- Racey seats might not suit everybody
- No true performance model to match VW/Skoda
What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice... to share technology across seven-seat crossover SUVs.
If you’re completely up to date on the ins and outs of the various Volkswagen Group shared-platform models, you’re doing much better than me.
But you can’t deny it’s a strategy that gives you a lot of choice. Consider the VW Tiguan Allspace, Skoda Kodiaq and Seat Tarracco: all essentially the same box of bits underneath, but covering a multitude of specifications and equipment options.
The latest new variant among this trio at the top is the Seat Tarracco FR.
There’s nothing dramatically new in mechanical terms. You get a choice of 110kW FWD (already offered in the Style and Xcellence) or 140kW 4Drive/AWD (Xcellence), except this time it comes in the Spanish brand’s sportier state of dress: FR trim, which brings it into line with the compact Arona and medium-sized Ateca SUVs.
We have noticed one other change: there’s a bit of Porsche in the flowing new script chosen for the model name on the tailgate. Previously, it was in block capitals which looked for all the world like “TAAAACO” when viewed from a distance. Which isn’t appropriate because the Seat doesn’t come from Mexico. It’s the VW Tiguan Allspace that’s made in Mexico; the "Spanish" Tarracco is actually built in Germany. Told you it was complicated.
Anyway, if you’re not obsessed with badge-status, we reckon the Tarracco delivers a better combination of sharp looks and interior design (if not ultimate quality perhaps) than its VW and Skoda siblings, especially in new FR guise.
That can partly be explained by the fact that it’s newer than either.
The cabin architecture has a great range of shapes and textures, the Tarracco picks up the Audi-style virtual dashboard – sorry, “Seat Digital Dashboard” - there’s a generously sized 8in tablet-style touch screen propped up in the centre (as is the fashion) and it’s finished off with a pair of very curvaceous sports-style seats up front. It’s all surprisingly touchy-feely, which is not always the case with Seat.
The FR has a slightly more aggressive suspension setup than the regular Tarracco models, but regardless of model chosen the Seat just seems to offer a sharper dynamic package than the mainstream equivalents from VW and Skoda. Not an especially sporty one, because it’s a large family seven-seat SUV. But still satisfying, especially with the combination of that 140kW engine and configurable drive-mode AWD system.
VW and Skoda still deliver way more performance if you want to spend the extra: there’s a Tiguan R-Line petrol with 162kW and of course the hero Kodiaq, the 176kW/500Nm biturbo diesel RS (although that powerplant makes way for a cleaner petrol engine with next year’s update).
But the Tarracco still impresses as a highly cohesive package that offers something a little different to others in the Group – without being different enough to scare conservative buyers away.
So it’s brilliant family car if you need space but don’t want to be boring. But perhaps it could be a snip cheaper. The FR 4Drive starts at $64,500 and by the time you’ve added a few extras like 20-inch wheels (you’re going to need those), leather if you want it and Beats audio, you’re getting dangerously close to the $69,490 price of that grunty Tiguan Allspace R-Line.
But then the VW’s puddle lights don’t shout “Hola!” on the pavement when you approach; Seats are fun.
SEAT TARRACCO FR 4DRIVE
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four
GEARBOX: 6-speed automated dual-clutch transmission, AWD