With the popularity of sports utility vehicles continuing to soar and people carriers seeing a decline, SEAT’s Tarraco is a tasty answer to the six-passenger poser.

The need to pack so many people into a car is a rarity for most, but when the need arises the Tarraco offers an elegant solution.

The Spanish car maker’s new flagship model, its first large SUV, joins the brand’s SUV line-up alongside the Arona and Ateca.

Its ace up the sleeve is a pair of decently-sized seats that fold flat into the rear loadspace.

When the seats are down the carrying capacity is impressive, but even when they are upright there is more than 200 litres of luggage space available – plenty for a few bags of shopping or sports kit.

Designed and developed in Martorell, Spain, and built in Wolfsburg, Germany, the Tarraco comes in four trim levels, with a choice of petrol and diesel engines and an impressive standard specification.

The car driven here was powered by one of the two petrol engines available, a 1.5-litre TSI developing 150 horsepower. A more powerful 2.0-litre engine is available with an automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive. All engines have direct-injection, turbocharging and start-stop technology.

Despite the considerable size of the car, the engine delivers lively acceleration through a six-speed manual gearbox and it quietly cruises at motorway speeds. Handling too is more agile and dynamic than the car’s proportions might suggest.

Sharp external styling is given a night-time boost on the Xcellence trim test car with crisp LED technology throughout the exterior and interior, complete with distinctive scrolling indicators. Puddle lamps beaming down the Tarraco name also add to the nocturnal fun.

Hop aboard and it is instantly clear the Tarraco is packed with the latest from the Volkswagen group’s technology labs. On all trim levels, ahead of the driver sits a 10.25-inch customisable digital cockpit, along with an eight-inch central display that nadles evrtyhing from satellite navigation to hi-fi, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections to link smartphones.

The large digital cockpit allows you to view everything from speedometer and rev counter, to digital speed read-out and colour maps and navigation, simply by pressing a steering wheel-mounted ‘View’ button to scroll through three different main displays.

Second row passengers are treated well with a pair of aircraft-style flip-up tables, a 12V power socket and USB connector.

A dial between the front seats allows you to select between four drive settings – normal, eco, sport and individual – with four-wheel-drive versions including off-road and snow modes.

Safety features are also impressive with front assist, lane assist, tiredness recognition and emergency call, all standard throughout the range.

Add to these systems the convenience features also included – park assist, electrically-powered tailgate and a top-view camera system to help with parking – and the Tarraco represents an imposing value-for-money package.

With prices starting from just over £28,500 and a plug-in hybrid version on the way, the Tarraco proves you can have your seven-seater cake and eat it.

Auto facts

Model: SEAT Tarraco Xcellence 1.5 TSI Evo

Price: £30,640

Insurance group: 19

Fuel consumption (combined): 36.7mpg

Top speed: 125mph

Length: 473.5cm/185.9in

Width: 183.9cm/72.2in

Luggage capacity: 700 litres/24.7 cu ft (five seats in place)

Fuel tank capacity: 12.7 gallons/58 litres

CO2 emissions: 152g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles