Seat's first MEB-based electric car will be a family hatch
Seat is in the middle of a major new product offensive - and six more new cars are on the way
The Seat Ateca Cupra was spied testing earlier this year
This is Autocar's image of how Seat's new seven-seat SUV could look
Seat recently launched the Arona small SUV. It's planning six new models by 2020
Seat is plotting a range of electric cars as part of a whole host of new models that will be launched between now and early in the next decade.
Seat’s R&D boss, Matthias Rabe, confirmed that the company has six new cars planned for launch by 2020. Three will be all-new models without a direct predecessor, and at least one of these will be electric, with one other a new seven-seat SUV powered by an internal combustion engine.
The new models are part of Seat’s ‘Phase 3’ recovery plan. Phase 1 started in 2012 with the launch of the Leon and Phase 2 included the launches of the Ateca, Ibiza and Leon and was crowned last week with the reveal of the Arona crossover.
Seat recently showed off an electric version of the Mii city car, which will be its first EV. It’s parent, the Volkswagen Group, has developed a new modular electrification toolkit, known as ‘MEB’, specifically for building EVs across the group’s brands.
Although MEB was recently unveiled under Volkswagen’s own ID concept car – which will make production in 2020 – Seat has a history of being the first brand to use new VW Group platforms. Therefore it’s possible Seat’s own first MEB-based electric production car, likely to be a five-door family hatch, could be launched first in 2019. It would be followed by an electric SUV as the third of the three all-new Seat models due by 2020.
The first of the all-new models will be a seven-seat SUV. Seat’s version of the Skoda Kodiaq, it is described by Seat boss Luca de Meo as “the flagship of the brand”. Design work on the model is complete, according to design chief Alejandro Mesonero, and it will be launched late next year. Seat is holding a public naming contest for the model and will announce the result in October.
“It’s a cool design, with an impression of quality and coherent in size,” Mesonero said. “It’s very much a Seat and quite different to Arona and Ateca. The execution is different, with a different attitude for the front end, a new rear treatment and more precise lines.”
Of the three replacement models that Seat will launch between now and the end of the decade, the Leon is the most significant. The Leon will also herald the next generation of Seat’s design language, according to Mesonero. He said the design would be “a bigger step” than the company has taken since the relaunch of the brand with the current Leon in 2012. “Sometimes you need to take a bigger step so as not to be obsolete. We’re ready very soon for the next, bolder step in design,” he said.
The new Leon and Seat’s electric cars will usher in new cabin technology for the company as it looks to increase its suite of connectivity options and become a market leader in high-tech interiors. There won’t be a pure electric version of the forthcoming Leon, said Rabe, but it is likely to be offered with plug-in hybrid options.
The other Seats due to be replaced by 2020 are the Mii, Toledo small hatch and Alhambra MPV. The Toledo is likely to be axed, but are likely to adopt attributes that are more distinct to the brand. Rabe said Seat no longer planned to simply put its badge on another VW Group ‘shared’ product, as is the case with today’s Mii and Alhambra. He also said the three all-new models are actually “more like three and a half”, with the Alhambra undergoing a radical transformation to become a large crossover.
The Cupra brand will also grow next year with one new model, an Ateca Cupra, which will have four-wheel drive and about 300bhp. “There are no other competitors in that segment that have driving performance,” said Rabe. “It would be a nice car.”
However, an Ibiza Cupra remains off the table for now. De Meo said Seat “hasn’t found a technical set-up yet [for the Ibiza Cupra] with a sound business case”. He said demand for hot hatches was waning, although the UK is an exception. Rabe added that Cupra versions of future electric Seat models were highly likely to be made.