The Spanish brand joins the midsize market alongside VW and Skoda

Seat is preparing to launch its third SUV that will go by the name Tarraco and will be the company’s largest SUV yet. Spotted testing on the Nurburgring track in June 2018, the Tarraco shares underpinnings and other components with the midsize Skoda Kodiaq. This means that the Tarraco uses the Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous MQB platform, which also underpins the Volkswagen Tiguan and Touareg. Much like the Kodiaq, the Tarraco will go against popular SUVs like the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe, and even the Volkswagen Tiguan. In case you’re wondering what’s in the Tarraco name, it’s the ancient name of the Spanish city of Tarragona.

Exterior

  • Design shared with other Seat SUVs
  • LED lights
  • Sporty front bumper
  • Featureless profile
  • Tailgate spoiler
  • Diffuser-like element
2019 Seat Tarraco Spyshots Exterior
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The grille is also familiar, sporting a trapezoidal shape with the wider side at the top

The SUV is well camouflaged, but it’s obvious that it doesn’t share design cues with its platform siblings, the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Skoda Kodiaq. While its similar in size and shape and the roof is equally body toward the rear, the Tarraco sports unique styling features that are specific to the Seat brand.

Up front, we can see the long and slim headlamps that become narrow toward the grille. We’ve seen this setup on other Seat SUVs as well as on the Ibiza hatchback. The grille is also familiar, sporting a trapezoidal shape with the wider side at the top. However, its corners aren’t as sharp as on other Seat models. Down below, we can notice a pair of round LED daytime running lights placed in black surrounds with fake grilles and a narrow opening in the center bumper.

Arguably the most interesting thing here is that the grille has a honeycomb-style design, while the bumper has an aggressive lower section, which could mean that Seat is actually testing a sportier version of the Tarraco, likely based on the upcoming Skoda Kodiaq RS. It’s unclear whether it’s a stand-alone Cupra version or just a sportier trim with a "Seat" badge.

2019 Seat Tarraco Spyshots Exterior
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Seat could be testing a sportier version of the Tarraco, likely based on the upcoming Skoda Kodiaq RS

The profile is rather mundane and I’d say it’s not as exciting as the Kodiaq’s. While the Skoda has a deeply sculpted character line at the bottom of the doors, the Tarraco is almost featureless in that area. However, the beltline that runs through the door handles and into the tailgate is stands out through the camouflage. The roof shape is very similar to the Kodiaq’s, but the Seat has a thinner quarter window and a thicker D-pillar.

The rear section is again pretty basic, with simple lines as you expect to see on an SUV. The taillights are pretty thin though and share their design with other Seat models, including the small hatchbacks. However, unlike the Kodiaq, it has a tailgate spoiler and a small, diffuser-like element at the bottom of the bumper. While tailgate spoilers aren’t pretty familiar on SUVs nowadays, it could signal that this version is indeed a sportier trim. It could also be an optional feature that’s being tested for aerodynamic enhancements, but it’s clear that the Tarraco will get one in some way or another.

Interior

  • New design
  • Premium-like features
  • Seat’s latest tech
  • Seven-seat layout
  • Big trunk
  • Optional leather
2017 Skoda Kodiaq High Resolution Interior
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Don’t expect it to borrow too much from the Ateca, as Seat is probably aiming for a sligthly more premium segment with this SUV

There’s no hint as to how the Tarraco will look like on the inside, but it should draw inspiration from the smaller Ateca. Don’t expect it to borrow too much through, as Seat is probably aiming for a sligthly more premium segment with this SUV. Still, it should have the typical Seat design language with the wide center stack in which the infotainment display is flanked by big, triangular A/C vents. One thing that will change here are the controls placed on each side of the screen. With a new infotainment system underway, the Tarraco should have a much cleaner center stack with fewer buttons and knobs.

It should also get a digital instrument cluster, but only as an option in the less expensive trims. It will get plenty of tech too, including Seat Connect App, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging, and Connectivity Box. The eight-inch screen will grow bigger in this model.

With the Kodiaq looking significantly better than its siblings in terms of fit and finish, the Tarraco should also be a step above the Ateca. However, don’t hold your breath for too many premium features outside the expensive range-topping model. There will be leather and textured materials, but the lower trims will remain affordable for the average Joe, so you’ll have to pay up for the options or go with a higher trim.

2017 Skoda Kodiaq High Resolution Interior
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Much like the Kodiaq, the Tarraco will be a good choice if you’re looking for an SUV with seating for seven people or massive cargo room

Much like the Kodiaq, the Tarraco will be a good choice if you’re looking for an SUV with seating for seven people or massive cargo room. Just like the Skoda, the Tarraco will come with a pair of third-row seats should you opt for them. They’re obviously not as comfortable as the second-row seats, with cramped legroom and limited headroom, but they will get the job done if you need to haul up to six passengers over short or mediu distances.

The cool thing here is that once those seats are removed, you get a reasonable trunk area. Sure, we still don’t know how much space you will get in the Tarraco, but it should be similar to the Kodiaq, which provides 720 liters (25.42 cubic feet(. Fold the second-row seats down, and cargo capacity increases to a whopping 2,005 liters (70.8 cubic feet). Both figures are massive improvements over what the Kia Sorento has to offer (660 / 1,732 liters) and even bests the Nissan X-Trail’s big, 1,982-liter trunk. The Kodiaq is also a clear winner when compared to premium SUVs like the BMW X5, but it remains to be seen if Seat can offer similar cargo room in the Tarraco.

Drivetrain

  • Both gas and diesel engines
  • Optional 4x4
  • Up to 190 horsepower
  • Up to 300 pound-feet of torque
  • Higher-performance version
2019 Seat Tarraco Spyshots Exterior
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The Tarraco will probably get two gasoline engines, displacing 1.4 and 2.0 liters

The Seat Tarraco should share a variety of engines with other Seat products, but there’s a big chance that it will get the same powerplants as the Skoda Kodiaq, since both brands usually use drivetrains shared within the Volkswagen Group.

The Tarraco will probably get two gasoline engines. First up will be the 1.4 TSI, which should generate around 150 horsepower. While the base model will be front-wheel drive, you will be able to get 4x4 at extra cost. More power will come from the bigger, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. This mill usually generates at least 170 horsepower, but it could get up to 180 horses in the Tarraco. All-wheel drive will be standard with this drivetrain.

2019 Seat Tarraco Spyshots Exterior
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The range-topping diesel will deliver around 190 horsepower and almost 300 pound-feet of twist

Moving over to diesel, you should have access to a 2.0-liter TDI unit in two flavors. The base model will crank out around 150 horsepower and up to 250 pound-feet of torque. Much like the base gas model, it will come with FWD as standard, but the all-wheel-drive system will be available. Seat should offer a more powerful version of the same engine, most likely with around 190 horsepower and almost 300 pound-feet of twist. Naturally, this range-topping model will come with AWD standard.

Transmission choices will include the already familiar six-speed manual and the seven-speed DSG unit.

As mentioned earlier, the Tarraco will also get a higher-performance version. A stand-alone model under the new Cupra brand is likely to surface in a couple of years, but Seat could bridge the gap with an SUV similar to the upcoming Kodiaq RS. The latter uses a twin-turbo, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder diesel that generates 237 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. The Tarraco will get the same engine, but expect output figures to be slightly different.

Prices

2019 Seat Tarraco Spyshots Exterior
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Pricing for the Tarraco is still a mystery right now, but it’s pretty obvious that it will cost more than the Ateca, which starts from £21,880 in the United Kingdom. Since it will be aimed at SUVs like the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe, it should have a similar starting point. The Sorento retails from £29,910, while the Santa Fe comes in at £33,425 before options. The Tarraco will probably fall between the two, so expect it to cost a bit more than £30,000.

Competition

Kia Sorento

2018 Kia Sorento Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Redesigned for the 2015 model year, the current Sorento is already three years old. However, the facelift it just received keeps it fresh thanks to a new grille, refreshed headlamps and taillights, and new technology. The third-row seats became standard on all trim level and engine types with the upgrade. Cargo space in the Sorento is among the best in class, offering 660 liters with the second-row seats in place and up to 1,732 liters with the seats folded flat. In Europe, the Sorento is offered with a 2.2-liter, four-cylinder diesel that generates 197 horsepower and a whopping 325 pound-feet of torque. Pricing starts from £29,910 in the United Kingdom.

Read our full story on the 2018 Kia Sorento.

Hyundai Santa Fe

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
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The Exterior has an all-new look

The Santa Fe is brand-new for the 2019 model year. Significantly more aggressive up front, the new Santa Fe retains the previous model’s ruggedness around back. Much like all vehicles from the Korean brand, it has a better-looking interior with premium-like features in the expensive trims, new technology, and more room for both front and rear passengers. The Santa Fe has a big trunk at 625 liters with the second-row seats up and up to 1,625 liters with them folded flat. Sure, it’s not as big as the Kodiaq’s, but it’s roomy enough for a long vacation with the kids. The Euro-spec model is available with three engines. There’s the 2.4-liter GDi with 185 horsepower and the turbo 2.0-liter Theta II with 232 horses on the gasoline front. The sole diesel is a 2.2-liter four-cylinder that delivers a solid 200 horsepower. Pricing for the Santa Fe starts from £33,425, which makes it the most expensive in this comparison.

Read our full review of the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Skoda Kodiaq

2017 Skoda Kodiaq High Resolution Exterior
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Just like Seat, Skoda entered the SUV market only recently, The Kodiaq was unveiled in 2016, and it’s closely related to the upcoming Tarraco. The SUV adopted the company’s new corporate look, sharing some features with the Octavia and Superb sedans. The interior isn’t particularly exciting, but it’s pretty classy given the price. Choose carefully, and you can get good value for the buck. The interior is also impressively roomy, providing a bit more than 2,000 liters of cargo room with the second-row seats folded flat. On the flipside, it can get expensive if you choose the range-topping version and a few options. Engine choices are similar to the Seat, starting with a 1.4-liter TSI rated at 123 horsepower and 147 pound-feet or 148 horses and 184 pound-feet. There’s also a 2.0-liter four-banger that cranks out 178 horses and 236 pound-feet of twist. Moving over to diesel, the 2.0-liter unit delivers either 148 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of 187 horses and 295 pound-feet. One cool thing about the Kodiak is that it retails from only £22,755. However, the range-topping model fetches in excess of £30,000.

Read our full story on the 2018 Skoda Kodiaq.

Conclusion

2019 Seat Tarraco Spyshots Exterior
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The Tarraco is an important SUV for Seat. With just two small crossovers on the market right now, Seat needs to enter the midsize segment in order to make a difference and gain access to the niche that brings the bigger profit. Granted, this market is already pretty tight with so many vehicles on offer, and the Volkswagen Group already has two — the Tiguan and the Kodiaq — but the Tarroco will probably slot between them pricing-wise. While it won’t be as spartan as the Kodiaq, it won’t have the premium features of the Tiguan.

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    • * Might be pricey
    • * Tough market
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