Passat-based saloon and Tiguan-based 4x4 on the way
12 March 2007

Seat’s new boss, Erich Schmitt, has been speaking to Autocar about his plans for the Spanish brand, and the fact that two new models have already been green-lit: a range-topping large saloon and a compact SUV.Seat’s stand at Geneva featured a 4x4 concept based on a heavily-modified Altea called the Freetrack (pictured). This is not the new SUV, but a pointer at the direction Seat wants to take with its new models.Audi’s former head of purchasing, Schmitt was parachuted into the role of Seat’s chairman in response to the brand’s flagging sales across Europe. He confirmed to Autocar that “all options” have been considered for the future of the brand, including the possibility of VW getting rid of it.Instead funding has been secured for what Schmitt describes as a product-led renaissance. The large saloon will be introduced within three years and will almost certainly be based on the VW Passat component set. The compact SUV, which will be a rival to the Toyota RAV-4 and Honda CR-V, is described as having a “Mediterranean flavour” and will follow later, with Schmitt confirming it will be road-biased and that it will likely be offered with both two- and four-wheel drive powertrains. Longer-range model plans include having at least three offerings in the A- and B-segments – presumably the Ibiza, something smaller and maybe a small roadster.Schmitt also claimed that VW would make more of what he described as Seat’s “Spanish-ness” saying that at the moment Seat is run too much like a German company. He also reaffirmed the brand’s commitment to motorsport, although he said that the brand would not just race for fun, but only to demonstrate positive benefits to customers, citing previous involvement in the BTCC as a good example of the direction he wanted to take.

Mike Duff

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