THE Tarraco is a whole new model for SEAT, signalling its entry into the large SUV market.

It follows on from the small Arona and mid-size Ateca to complete the line-up for the brand, which a few years ago didn’t have any SUVS at all.

But it’s a market that continues to boom and one where every manufacturer needs to be.

It also helps if you have some siblings from parent company VW from which to borrow a platform or two, in this case that of the Tiguan Allspace.

It launched with four specs, all pretty familiar – SE, SE Technology, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux, with the sporty FR and FR Sport to follow.

It’s got seven seats and a plug-in hybrid is slated to be available next year.

Base spec includes 17in alloys, 10.25-inch SEAT digital cockpit and 8-inch floating central display and rear parking sensors.

It also gets safety kit that includes Front Assist, Lane Assist and Emergency Call.

Step up a notch and you can add 18in wheels, sat nav and tinted windows, while Xcellence, which we drove, gets 19in wheels, alcantara sports seats and park assist.

Top spec gets your extras like leather, a top view camera, winter pack and 20in wheels.

The Tarraco keeps up the reputation for quality inside and out – with SEAT now matching Volkswagen in this department - although I can’t quite make my mind up about the front.

Our tester with the 1.5 TSI, 150ps, petrol was a good drive, although the engine does need to be worked occasionally when it hits a flat spot. For an engine that has a reasonable amount of poke on paper, it needed to be given a bit of lower-gear love from time to time.

It didn’t quite feel like an engine that gets you to 62mph in 9.7 seconds.

But, mostly, it was a nippy drive and fairly frugal, with high 40s around town and country and 40-odd on the motorway comparing very favourably with its official figures of 35.3 to 36.7mpg.

It’s a very smooth ride and adept at the motorway cruise.

There are four engine options in all, with the 150 we drove the lower-powered petrol. There’s a 2.0 with 190ps and that’s going to be more satisfying.

But, to me at least, these cars feel right with a nice torquey diesel, and the group’s excellent TDIs, with either 150ps or 190ps, are available.

Both two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive are available.

Interior quality is very good, with plush materials and a solid fit and finish. This is an area that SEAT has really improved in over the past few years.

The extra two seats in the boot are easy to fold away to unveil a big area and there’s good rear legroom.

With the Tarraco starting a good couple of thousand less than its VW sibling, this is likely to be a solid first stab at this end of the SUV market for SEAT.