Seat will launch its sexy Ibiza SportCoupe at the July 2008 London motor show, but CAR was granted a sneak preview yesterday.
Unlike many three-door variants, the SportCoupe is no 5-minus-2-door, jokes Luc Donckerwolke. Seat’s head of design was the driving force behind the differentiated models. ‘When I arrived at Seat, there was no plan for a three-door with unique roof, lamps and trunk.’
But using the original Lancia Delta Integrale as his spiritual inspiration (and there’s a distinct similarity in the two car’s glasshouses), Donckerwolke set about creating the SportCoupe.
Seat Ibiza SportCoupe: inspired by the Integrale!
The two Ibiza bodystyles diverge above the driver’s head, with the three-door’s roofline descending more steeply. The rear wings are new, kicking out over the wheels to create a broad shoulder along each side, exaggerating the track, the bespoke rear lamps and the rump’s wide stance. The steeper screen, bigger spoiler and funkier rear window graphic make for a tasty three-door.
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Seat’s Ibiza plans
Donckewolke expects the Sportcoupe will attract an average buyer aged 34, three years younger than the five-door’s. ‘It’s our core product,’ he muses. ‘If it didn’t have a strong identity, people would say “Seat has lost it!”‘
SEAT has yet to confirm UK prices (expected to start at £9000), but, in a mark of the firm’s aspirations, the three-door might be sold at the same price as the three-door, rather than being cheaper for having two fewer doors. And Donckerwolke believes his pet project could tempt fashionistas out of their Minis – with a big step forward in quality to help close the deal.
Seat quality issues
CAR agrees Seat quality is improving, having been dragged around the Martorell plant at 7.30am, by the mastermind of Audi’s famed quality. Seat president Erich Schmitt, a spritely 62-year-old, is always on the production line at 7.00am, scrutinising fit and finish, and rigorously analysing faults in the company checking bays.
It appears to be paying off: Seat’s faults per 1000 vehicles have dropped from 37 to 4.1 – below Toyota – in the past five years, according to a survey of 250,000 German motorists.
The exacting boss agrees to having three obsessions: ‘Quality, quality and quality. Audi and Mercedes can use more expensive materials, but Seat’s precision has to be just as good as theirs.’
The SportCoupe will be on sale in time for the September 2008 plate change – thanks to the president personally pulling right-hand drive forward by four months.