There’s a lot more to the SEAT Tarraco FR than meets the eye

The SEAT Tarraco is one of the most pleasantly surprising SUVs in the market. It’s offered in a variety of trim options, and it’s more powerful than you’d expect. There’s something upscale about how it looks, too, particularly in the front end where traces of Audi’s design language are evident in the physical profile of the Tarraco. There’s also more good news about SEAT’s big boy SUV as the Spanish automaker is all set to introduce the model’s new FR trim at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, complete with exclusive touches to the exterior, improvements in the interior, and, most importantly, the introduction of a plug-in hybrid powertrain, ushering SEAT into the world of PHEVs. The days of people looking at SEAT as an afterthought automaker are over. If anything, the new Tarraco FR represents one of the first of many hybrid and all-electric models to proudly wear the “S” badge. That counts for a lot when it comes to SEAT.

The Seat Tarraco PHEV has Finally Arrived

You Can Now Have the SEAT Tarraco in PHEV Form and It Isn't Half Bad Exterior
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I don’t usually pay a lot of attention to SEAT, largely because I don’t think I’ve ever seen one here in the U.S. But I’m digging the Tarraco SUV, even more so now that you can get it in the new FR trim with a plug-in hybrid powertrain in tow. As it turns out, you can also score the FR trim and the PHEV drivetrain independent of one another. That’s a good thing, too.

Of course, this is more than just the new trim and new drivetrain. I’ve had my eye on the Tarraco SUV ever since SEAT introduced it at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. I like the way it looks and the way it’s presented. I know it’s related to the Skoda Kodiaq and the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspice, but, really, the Tarraco has the best design of the three, especially with that Fura Grey paint finish.

There’s also a bit of Audi in the SUV, mixed with some fresh styling details.

Even better, the new FR trim builds on that fresh design with a host of new standard and optional features. The front grille, for example, is unique to the FR trim. SEAT also fitted this new version of the Tarraco with wider wheel arches, a larger spoiler, a new full-width rear light bar, and a new set of 19-inch alloy wheels. Not happy with the wheels? There’s an option to go big with a set of 20s if that suits your style better.

You Can Now Have the SEAT Tarraco in PHEV Form and It Isn't Half Bad Interior
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The SEAT Tarraco FR’s interior is no less intriguing. There’s an FR-branded sports steering wheel in case you forget what spec you’re driving. The set of aluminum pedals are also new, as is the 9.2-inch infotainment system that’s sitting ever-so-casually at the base of the dashboard. The electrically adjustable sports seats are dressed in fake leather, but that’s easily solvable if you’re willing to spend for real leather in the aftermarket world. You’ll also have to come to grips with the plastic bits scattered throughout the cabin, but for what it’s worth — literally and figuratively — the SEAT Tarraco FR is worth the price of admission.

The big highlight, though, is the SUV’s drivetrain. This is the first time that SEAT will use a plug-in hybrid powertrain on the Tarraco, and if for nothing else, it’s a welcome addition to the fold.

The PHEV system is made up of a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and an electric motor that contributes 114 ponies.

Together, the setup accounts for 242 horsepower and an impressive 295 pound-feet of torque. Not only does this setup make the Tarraco FR PHEV the most powerful version of SEAT’s flagship SUV, but it’s powerful enough to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in just 7.4 seconds. It’s not breaking any world records, but it’s not a bad performance time, either.

You Can Now Have the SEAT Tarraco in PHEV Form and It Isn't Half Bad Exterior
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Then there’s the 13-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Sure, it’s a small battery compared to what other hybrid SUVs in the market have, but it’s still good enough to allow the Tarraco FR to run for a little over 31 miles while the four-cylinder engine sits pretty underneath the hood, presumably — if it had any — with its legs up.

2020 SEAT Tarraco FR PHEV specifications
Engine 1.4-liter four-cylinder + electric motor
Horsepower 148 HP
Electric horsepower 114 HP
Combined Horsepower 242 HP
Combined torque 295 LB-FT
0 to 62 mph 7.4 seconds
Battery pack 13-kWh lithium-ion
Electric range 31 miles

The SEAT Tarraco is one of those SUVs that you don’t notice until you actually notice it. But once you do, it’s hard not to be impressed with the overall product. It has a modern design that speaks to the massive improvements SEAT has made in that department. It has a solid interior with somewhat of a premium feel to it. Now it has a plug-in hybrid powertrain, too. I didn’t think there would come a day when I’d be totally in tune with something made by SEAT, but that day has come.

The SEAT Tarraco FR is a solid SUV, especially for those who have the opportunity to buy one when it goes on sale in Europe early next year.
You Can Now Have the SEAT Tarraco in PHEV Form and It Isn't Half Bad Exterior
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As for me, I’m more than happy to see the SUV make a name for itself at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show next month. SEAT certainly earned a share of the spotlight with this one.

Further reading

2019 Seat Tarraco
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Read our full review on the2019 Seat Tarraco.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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SEAT brings another dimension to its largest SUV with the introduction of the sporty FR trim and the efficient plug-in hybrid powertrain
Thanks to its 13kWh battery pack, the Tarraco PHEV can offer an all-electric range of more than 50km* and reduced emissions of below 50g/km*
With a total output power of 245PS thanks to its 110kW/150PS gasoline engine and its 85kW/116PS electric engine, the Tarraco PHEV becomes the most powerful Tarraco within the range
The Tarraco also comes with novelties such as the functional coast-to-coast light and a larger 9.2’’ infotainment system
Both the FR trim and the PHEV powertrain will be available to order in 2020

EAT is expanding the efficiency and desirability of the Tarraco, introducing plug-in hybrid powertrain technology and the sporty FR trim. The Tarraco plug-in hybrid is a demonstration of SEAT strategy towards electrification, which will include six electric and plug-in hybrid SEAT and CUPRA models until the beginning of 2021.

SEAT sold a record 369,500 vehicles in the first seven months of the year, with 55,200 vehicles sold in July alone, a 7.8% increase over 2018. The Tarraco is contributing to increase the company’s presence globally, and the introduction of both the FR trim and plug-in hybrid technology will be key components in achieving its targets.

“The Tarraco plug-in hybrid perfectly illustrates our move towards a more sustainable mobility, yet maintaining the dynamism and fun-to-drive, typical of any SEAT. The Tarraco will be one of the few options with a plug-in hybrid powertrain on the large SUV segment, and we believe that it has a great potential,” said Luca de Meo, President of SEAT.

Plug-in hybrid version: pure efficiency

Designed and developped at SEAT’s facilities in Martorell, the SEAT Tarraco is being produced in Wolfsburg (Germany), at the heart of the Volkswagen Group. With the introduction of the plug-in hybrid powertrain system, the SEAT Tarraco will gain added efficiency, becoming a very sustainable alternative.

The powertrain system, which comprises a 1.4 litre TSI 110 kW petrol engine, 85 kW electric motor and a 13 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, gives drivers the adaptability of multiple driving modes. The plug-in hybrid Tarraco allows users to drive in pure-electric mode for more than 50km* should they need to, reducing tailpipe emissions to zero, or combine the petrol engine and electric motor to provide increased performance.

The technology will help the SUV – and SEAT – improve efficiency without the need to make sacrifices in dynamics or comfort.

Total output for the system is 245PS (180kW)/400Nm giving the plug-in hybrid Tarraco a top speed of 217km/h* and the ability to reach 100km/h in just 7.4 seconds*. But importantly, CO2 emissions will be below 50g/km* on the official WLTP test cycle.

FR trim: Distinction and Sportiness

Introducing the FR trim to the Tarraco will enhance the large SUVs desirability yet further, and bring new levels of sportiness to its character.

The exterior design has been enhanced, with wider wheel arches, a sporty rear spoiler and FR-specific 19” alloy wheels, with an option to have machined 20” wheels available. As well as these changes, at the front, the FR grille proudly houses the SEAT badge; at the back, the coast-to-coast rear light highlights the FR look and the all-body painted exterior emphasises its dynamism. The sportier expression of the Tarraco FR is its name, now embossed in handwriting.

A new colour – Fura Grey – underlines the changes to the exterior and brings additional options to customers to help personalise their vehicle further. The Tarraco also improves in safety and practicality.

New options include trailer assist – which makes towing considerably easier, and reduce the likelihood users will encounter difficulties when parking. Add to this the Parking Heater, a system that allow you to warm the engine and vehicle faster in extremely cold weather, and the Tarraco becomes an even more practical vehicle.

Inside, the interior space has been shrewdly sculptured to heighten the impression of comfort with SEAT’s latest generation infotainment system including a new navigation system with 9.2’’ screen, increasing the SUV’s levels of digitalisation to optimise driver feedback and passenger connectivity.

Front occupants now benefit from electric sports bucket seats with memory function (for the driver side). The bucket seats have a combination of the sportiness of a neoprene look material and the sophistication of an art craft leather work for the confort area. In addition, the driver benefits from aluminium pedals and a new sports steering wheel with FR logo.

The introduction of the FR trim and advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain positions the SEAT Tarraco as one of the sportiest, most efficient models in the large SUV segment, combining state-of-the-art connectivity systems, convenience and assistance systems, design and styling. Start of production of the FR trim and of the PHEV version will take place during the course of 2020.

The SEAT Tarraco FR PHEV will make its world debut at this year’s IAA Frankfurt International Motor Show.

* all technical data of the SEAT Tarraco FR PHEV are provisional and subject to revision.

Note: The SEAT Tarraco FR PHEV that will be exhibited in Frankfurt Motorshow will be a showcar.

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