Seat has officially announced today that it is developing an all-new compact SUV model to join the Spanish outfit’s range in 2016.
A Seat SUV? Tell me more
Seat says that the new SUV is already two years into development at the company’s Martorell technical facility in Spain. The as yet unnamed car is likely to share engines and platform with other ‘compact SUVs’ made by parent company, Volkswagen Group, such as the next-gen VW Tiguan and Audi Q3, which will use the MQB modular architecture.
Pictured, right, is the Seat IBX concept, which was unveiled at the 2011 Geneva motor show. While the IBX was simply touted as a design study pointing the entire Seat range’s then-new design language, it gives a few clues as to how Seat’s new SUV will look when it comes on stream in 2016. The IBX (which sported an electric motor good for 27 miles of EV range) made provision for both TSI petrol and TDI diesel four-cylinder engines, and a part-time all-wheel drive system.
Why is Seat entering the compact SUV market?
Because it’s a car sales goldmine. According to Seat’s own figures, the compact SUV class now accounts for one million car sales every year in Europe – a huge sector that the Spanish brand has been conspicuously absent from.
Sales of small urban SUVs have shot up by some 40% since 2009, says Seat, which forecasts further increases in the number of buyers trading in conventional hatchbacks and estates for trendy crossover SUVs. Time for Seat to get a slice of the action, then…
The closest thing Seat’s had to an SUV previously was the half-hearted Altea Freetrack, launched in 2007. Essentially a jacked-up MPV wearing plastic cladding and packing a part-time all-wheel drive system, it never made the impact cars like the top-selling Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage managed.
However, an all-new SUV using VW oily bits and a suit as sharp as the current Leon’s could be a promising recipe for success. Seat posted a 10.6% increase in global sales in 2013.
What about Skoda – will we see a new SUV from VW’s Czech arm soon?
It’s on the cards. When quizzed at the 2014 Geneva motor show, Skoda’s sales and marketing board member Werner Eichhorn told CAR: ‘We are on the way to join the mega-trend. We are quite okay with Yeti – we’ve had great success in the UK – [but] there is enough space to add another car, perhaps in the next two years, above Yeti. We are confident that the brand could support such a car.’
A Skoda spokesman confirmed to CAR that although a new Skoda SUV was under consideration, no such model had been confirmed for production. Should a new Skoda 4×4 (bigger and pricier than the best-selling Yeti) get the green light, it wouldn’t arrive until 2016 at the earliest, CAR understands.
>> Seat’s new SUV: a good move for VW’s supposedly sporty, youthful arm? Add your thoughts in the comments below