Seat launches a Mondeo rival
Volkswagen's Spanish outpost is to expand its range upwards, entering the hotly contested Mondeo class for the first time. There's no name yet for the newcomer, but one badge in contention is Bolero, the name of its 1998 sports saloon concept. Details are sketchy at this stage, but Seat has confirmed it will offer a saloon and estate version, and they'll roll into dealership in 2009. It will be the first time it has offered a conventional saloon above the Jetta/Focus four-door class and these first official sketches reveal the proposed new look.
But I thought that sales in the Mondeo class were collapsing...
Hardly. Sales in the D-segment aren't exactly rocketing, but this is still a massive market, especially in corporate fleet circles. Europeans bought more than 1.1 million Mondeo/Vectra/Laguna size cars last year, don't forget - and these will be incremental sales for Seat, which hasn't competed in this category before. Seat president Erich Schmitt said the decision to stretch the brand upwards was an easy one. 'We enlarge our current product range, which not only gives our clients the possibility to grow with the brand, but also enables us to increase the profitability of our dealer network.’ The new car will be built at the company's Martorell factory near Barcelona; every Seat is produced there apart from the Alhambra, which is built in neighbouring Portugal alongside the VW Sharan.
So what else do we know about the Bolero?
Not much at this stage. Expect it to be based around VW group architecture, most likely the transverse-engined Passat platform, as the big-selling Seat family cars will be front-wheel drive diesels. This would rule out the need for the more expensive, longitudinal Audi A4 underpinnings. The estate shown in this picture looks like a lifestyle fastback, and could be offered as a crossover like the recently unveiled Altea Freetrack. It is likely that Seat will show a concept car for its new Mondeo rival, probably in 2008. President Schmitt (above) has also approved the new Ibiza supermini for launch next year, which is likely to be shown in the second half of the year. Seat sold 430,000 cars in 2006, up 2 percent on the previous year, while UK sales rose by 16 percent - bolstered by the new Leon and Altea.