SEAT has at last confirmed it will produce an all-new SUV from 2016 – a model that’s already been in development for two years.
Indeed, 900 engineers are working on its development as we write!
The new SEAT will be a compact SUV, similar to a Volkswagen Tiguan and Audi Q3. It may actually be based on the future Tiguan platform, which itself will be a variation of the MQB architecture SEAT’s already building the Leon on.
SEAT has been working on the idea of making an SUV for several years now: in 2011, it showed the pretty IBX concept car to critical acclaim. It’s been delayed because the firm was focusing on the Leon range, in an attempt to finally make the brand profitable.
Losses actually increased in 2013, to -€149m, but owner VW Group has still clearly seen enough to convince it that SEAT has a future within the Group. Today’s confirmation is “a clear sign of the Volkswagen Group’s commitment to the Spanish brand,” said the firm in a statement.
The new SEAT SUV will be developed at the firm’s Martorell plant and, although it’s not telling us any more at the moment, SEAT chairman Jurgen Stackmann said it will be “an important pillar in the future corporate strategy”.
Acknowledging the fact Europe’s compact SUV sector has grown 40% in the past five years – representing one million sales in Europe alone – he added it “is a major step forward on the road to reaching sustainable profitability for the company.
“This is an excellent piece of news, since it takes SEAT into a new territory, in one of the largest and fastest growing segments in the world.”
The new SUV won’t be SEAT’s first experience of building an SUV, though. For several years now, it has been building the Audi Q3 on behalf of its German brand partner – and the 2016 launch of the new SEAT SUV makes it more likely it will share plenty of architecture with any future new Audi Q3 too.
SEAT actually hasn’t confirmed where it will be built, but centralising compact SUV production at the huge Martorell facility seems logical.
But what will it look like? SEAT has dabbled with the idea of an SUV for years; it’s design philosophy has moved on since the 2011 IBX concept, but will this pretty machine still have anything to offer the new SEAT 4×4?
However it looks, mind, it’s bound to be more convincing than SEAT’s most recent ‘crossover’, the Altea Freetrack…
(Saying that, we did actually like how it drove.)