SPANISH motoring manufacturer SEAT is upping the ante in a must-have model sector with the seven-seater Tarraco.

The flagship model is the maker’s first large SUV (sports utility vehicle), joining the brand’s SUV family alongside the Arona and the Ateca.

I was invited to sample the new car at a driving day in the North West of England, part of a European tour which culminated at the Rum Warehouse of Liverpool’s luxurious Titanic Hotel.

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The car forms part of SEAT’s €3.3billion investment over a five-year period and hints at the brand’s future design language with a striking front end and new lighting signature.

Designed and developed in Martorell, Spain, it is built in Wolfsburg, Germany, and mixes state-of-the-art technology, dynamic and agile handling, practicality and functionality with elegant, progressive design.

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The Tarraco launches with four trim levels: SE, SE Technology, XCELLENCE and XCELLENCE LUX. FR and FR with Sport to be added. Five powertrains are available. Two petrol: 1.5 TSI 150PS in manual and 2.0 TSI 190PS in DSG with 4Drive, and three diesel: 2.0 TDI 150PS available in manual and DSG with 4Drive, and a 2.0 TDI 190PS in DSG with 4Drive only.

A plug-in hybrid version will be available next year.

All engines benefit from direct-injection, turbocharging and start-stop technology and there is a top speed of 126mph and a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds with the 2.0 TDI 148bhp engine. The 4DRIVE total traction system adds confidence when driving in challenging conditions.

Boot capacities range from 230-litres (2nd and 3rd row of seats upright), 700-litres (with third row folded and 2nd row upright) to 1,775-litres (with 2nd and 3rd rows folded).

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All trim levels receive a 10.25-inch digital cockpit and 8-inch floating central display.
You will find many standard safety features including Front Assist, Lane Assist and Emergency Call, Park Assist, Electric Tailgate with virtual pedal, and top view camera system.

The digital cockpit plus 8-inch floating central display, incorporates Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto®.

Priced from £28,335 OTR, I drove the SE Technology 2.0TDI model with six-speed manual gearbox (£30,820 OTR) which boasts a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds and a top speed of 126mph. Combined fuel consumption is 44.1 to 47.9mpg with a CO2 emissions level of 129g/km. (All manufacturer’s figures).

 The car proved easy-handling, with plenty of willing power on tap, and showed itself to be as at home on city streets as on the open road.