In these worrying Brexit times it was a relief to attend the launch of a new model to a fanfare of good news.
RTE Studies was the location, where Niall Phillips, brand director of Seat Ireland, was able to boast that the Spanish arm of the VW group has bucked the trend in the January sales, traditionally the biggest sales period of the year. The news that Seat has a 7pc increase in sales year on year, in a market which is down by 13pc overall, was the backdrop to the launch of the company’s first seven-seater SUV, the all-new Tarraco.
Seat boasts the youngest fleet of cars in the market and the 1,016 sales for January, which pushed market share to a record 3.1pc, thanks to the success of smaller SUVs, Arona and Ateca. These models accounted for 55pc of sales for the month. Two years ago Seat did not have a single SUV in its line-up. The mainstay models up to then were the Ibiza and Leon, which now account for 41pc of sales this year.
With keen pricing and some of the most striking models coming from the VW stable, Seat has latched on to the SUV wave of popularity with great gusto and the new arrival will strengthen the brand’s performance.
The all-new Tarraco comes with the option of five or seven seats (the long-running Alhambra MPV will continue for another two years or so) with the seven-seater expected to be the best seller. A sibling of the Skoda Kodiaq, it is built on the same platform, but it gets its own distinctive Seat exterior look and has a stylish luxury finish interior. Seat sees Nissan’s X-Trail, Peugeot 5008 and the Kia Sorento as rivals, as well as the Kodiaq and the VW Tiguan Allspace, of course, so style is important as Seat prides itself on attracting younger drivers.
Inside, the driver gets a digital dash display and there is lots of room, especially when the third row of seats is not needed. Folded down, there is more space for second row passengers who get added luxury as there is a slide and recline lever to give more options. The boot is a hefty 700 litres, growing to 1,775 litres with the rear seats folded. Just what the growing family, which the Tarraco is targeting, will have high on the agenda. The extra row of seats adds €1,000 to the price.
There are two trim levels (entry level pricing has been dropped), SE and Xcellence, with pricing at €34,700 and €39,885. The top trim level is expected to account for 55pc of sales. Engine choices include a 1.5-litre TSi 150bhp manual petrol engine, a 2-litre 190bhp DSG automatic.
Diesel will account for 65pc of sales, with 70pc opting for a manual two-wheel drive. The volume seller will be a 150bhp diesel.