A month before Christmas, Seat hosted European press at a low-key mobility conference in Barcelona, rolling out an interview opportunity with its amiable CEO, Luca de Meo.

Inconveniently for Seat’s press narrative, however, the Financial Times had the day before run a story suggesting that de Meo was top of a head-hunter’s list for next Renault CEO.

Seat boss steps down, is tipped for top Renault job

In the scrum of hacks, I managed to fire the obvious question at de Meo. The deadpan look on his face and the unusually negative ‘no comment’ reply, backed-up by a classic distraction interruption by his PR minder, said only one thing: ‘Very likely, but I really, really can’t say anything on pain of death…’

We still don’t know 100% if de Meo is heading to Renault, but we now know that he's leaving Seat “on his own request”. He remains a director but is on gardening leave.

No doubt de Meo has been a huge success at Seat, notably for achieving a profit in 2015, the company's first in seven years, followed by successive profitable years in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This makes Seat a sustainable business for the first time since Volkswagen took full control in 1990.