By Ken Fletcher

SEAT is often overlooked when it comes to looking for an ideal and down to earth SUV, but it has a fairly wide range of 'alternatives' to the mainstream.

Included in that is the Tarraco, which is a mid-sized SUV, but also comes with the benefit of being a seven seater. This is now SEAT's biggest SUV to date and it's quite a contender for anyone looking to buy a sensibly priced motor of this kind.

So good is it, that it was also the winner of the Scottish Car of the Year 'Crossover' title, back in November.

On test is the fairly high spec' SE Technology version, which has a sparky and well-proven VW-derived 2.0 TDI engine under the bonnet, which produces 148bhp and mated to a manual six-speed geartrain.

That's enough oomph to get you to do the timed run of 0-62mph in a tad under 10 seconds and yet still get you into the mid-40s mpg.

It's complicated by the fact that there's also a twin-clutch DSG auto gearbox available as an option for this 148bhp version – but that means that all-wheel-drive is standard, while a manual can get two-wheel-drive which does cut down on fuel costs and servicing.

Both four-wheel-drive and the DSG comes as standard fare on the more powerful 187bhp boosted version of the diesel. There's also a pair of petrol engines, a 1.5 and a 2.0-litre pushing out the same power as the oil burners.

While there's a surprising amount of space in the Tarraco, it does fall into the same category as most other 'seven seaters' in the it's pup up seating arrangement for the third row is really for children. Adults will thole it for a short journey to the pub, but that's about it!

With the third row of seats down, there's quite a load space available, 700 litres in fact, and that's more than some of the other contenders in this market by at least a suitcase. Flatten the second row and you will have a van-like 1775 litres of space available.

SEAT and VW have a reputation for keeping things simple in the cabin, both for drivers and passengers and there's little change in that for those who opt for the Tarraco. As well as some cosmetics, the SE grading gives satnav as standard.

Obviously, there’s a touchscreen infotainment system and some pretty clear digital instrument signage to go by. But the biggest things for the driver is that the handling is pretty darn'd up there with the best of the brigade, including its group challengers, the Skoda Kodiaq and the VW Tiguan.

It's an easy drive – probably made easier by being in the two-wheel-drive version – and it handles potholes and uneven roads with ease.

There's also a top of the range model the Xcellence Lux, which has leather trim, heated seats and some bright bits to make it stand out.

Prices start at around £28,000, but the tested SE Technology version, in two-wheel-drive, costs almost £31,000. A three-year, 60,000-mile warranty is included.