The Seat Leon SC Cross Sport may not be making production, but the design studio’s chief engineer, Angel Lahoz, says the car could feasibly be on the roads tomorrow.
Driving the almost production-ready concept car around the Castelloli race track near Barcelona affirms Lahoz’s claim, with the usual clunky and unfinished feel of a concept largely absent.
But there are a few differences from what a production version would offer. While carry-over parts include the brakes and DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox, the turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine doesn’t quite produce the 286bhp that it does in the production Leon Cupra, and even with a 40mph speed limit, it does still seem to lack the full Cupra punch when accelerating.
The steering, says Lahoz, is only in prototype form and would need some work, while the Ultra Orange colour scheme features pigments that wouldn’t be able to hack everyday UV rays.
So is it more than an orangey, jacked-up Leon SC Cupra? Not especially, but that’s not to say it isn’t fun.
There’s a nice deep burble from the quadruple exhaust, while the all-wheel drive system makes the car feel very stable around the track without sucking the fun out of it; in full-blooded Cupra mode it still allows a bit of rear slip even with the traction control on. The 41mm extra ground clearance, although not drastically different, removes some of the engagement with the drive, though, and there’s no great added practicality to speak of.
Which is odd, because Seat wanted to strike a 50/50 balance between performance and practicality with the Cross Sport, hoping no one would feel it was more SUV than Cupra, or vice versa. But it has slightly missed the mark. The three doors aren’t practical, for a start, nor the cramped rear seats.
It’s a pretty thing, though. The bespoke colour scheme, colour and trim designer Carol Gomez says, is inspired by the idyllic sunset on the Barcelona beaches close to the track and is all part of Seat’s attempt to make the Cross Sport appealing to a younger audience.
It may not scream ‘high-performance family car’, but it does address a growing trend in the market for this particular niche, and it’s still an impressive effort that shows Cupra performance can be translated across to SUVs.
The Nissan Juke Nismo has remained practically unchallenged in the segment since its release, while the Japanese manufacturer’s Gripz concept shows that it sees an emerging market there for the taking.
Seat is looking to get on board the hot-SUV trend, and while the Cross Sport may not quite be the finished article, it shows there is definite scope for models like it in the future, and some impressive ones at that.