by Seán Creedon

The Seat car company, which was founded in Spain almost 70 years ago, has a tradition of naming their new cars after Spanish places. You may remember the Arona, Ibiza, Leon and the huge Alhambra people carrier.

Now the company, which is now owned by the VW Group, has introduced the Tarraco which is the 14th model to be named after a Spanish place. Seat’s flagship SUV takes its name from the ancient Roman name for Tarragona.

Most car launches are held at hotels around the country, but Seat opted for the RTE studios in Donnybrook to introduce the Tarraco to the Irish media. Part of the reason for the unusual venue was that Seat sponsor the 2FM ‘Rising’ programme.

Seat is doing very well in Ireland recently. Last year their sales figures here grew by 12% and they now have over 3% market share, their best Irish performance since 2001. We are going to see a lot more new cars from Seat with a new model due every six months. Next up is a new Leon, due early next year.

The Tarraco is now the largest SUV in the Seat stable, larger than the Arona and Ateca. It’s available in a five or seven-seater option and those seats are very comfortable. All my family loved the high seating position in the Tarraco, which is rare as someone normally has a complaint.

Most cars in the VW range share parts and platforms and the Tarraco shares its platform with the equally massive Skoda Kodiaq.

Externally, the car looks very impressive with the traditional Seat grille at the front and LED lights front and back. Inside the dash is dominated by an eight-inch infotainment screen.

There are various engines available, starting with the 1.5-litre petrol. My test car came with a 2.0-litre automatic diesel with 190 brake horse power. There is also a 2.0-litre diesel with 150 brake horse power. It was full of goodies, starting with keyless entry, 19-inch alloys, rear view camera and sun roof.

I drove the seven-seater, but had no real need for the third row of seats. However, it was good to see that despite having seven seats, there was still room to squeeze in a proper spare wheel.

Prices start at €34,700 for the SE version, while the fancier Xcellence model will cost you €39,885. Those models will have lots of ‘extras’ included. A sporty FR version is coming soon, there will also be a plug-in hybrid version next year and an electric version is due at a later stage.

There are scrappage deals available with up to €2,000 on offer in trade-ins. Seat say they expect their main rivals for the Tarraco will be the Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan X-Trail and Peugeot 5008. They can expect tough competition there from that trio, but the Tarraco should be well able to compete.

I think the Tarraco is going to be a big seller for Seat. Their marketing manager Neil Dalton described the car as a ‘Halo model’ for the company and Neil added that he expects diesel to sell more than petrol and also the seven-seater will be their best seller in Ireland.

It truly is massive beast of a car, but I would say that it’s a very manageable and frugal ‘beast.’