Last week MSN Cars went to visit SEAT at its major base of operations – the Martorell factory in Spain. Here we spoke to CEO Juergen Stackmann and executive vice president for research and design Dr. Matthias Rabe about the brand’s future model plans.
Chief amongst these plans is SEAT’s desire to build an SUV – following on from the Tribu concept of 2007 (pictured above), this much touted project has suffered numerous delays and production ‘freezes’ and still isn’t signed off at this stage. But we were shown a brand new full-scale model during our visit, completed just two weeks ago.
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See pictures of SEAT SUV prototypes New 2014 Nissan Qashqai revealed in pictures Alongside the SUV, we were also shown preview versions of the SEAT Leon Cupra five-door hot hatch that will debut at the Geneva Motor Show 2014, and the SEAT Lean ST X-perience, an off-road orientated version of the Leon estate that will debut at the Paris Motor Show 2014.
Sadly, such was the hush-hush nature of the meeting we weren’t allow to take any pictures – but we can report what we were shown and told, and you can expect to see the first details of the new cars in the new year.
Is SEAT going to build an SUV? It’s clear that SEAT really, really wants to build an SUV. Stackmann and Rabe believe that a 4x4 is a perfect fit for the company, and will help drive its expansion. SEAT is already the most youthful brand in the Volkswagen Group portfolio, and a fun-to-drive off-roader would only enhance this image.
However, it is also clear that at this stage the SEAT SUV project still hasn’t been given the green light – though a decision is imminent. What will the SEAT SUV be called?
There’s no word on an official name for the SEAT SUV yet, which is hardly surprising given that the project is still in limbo at present. The two-week-old full-size styling model shown to us was labelled Tribu and SE376 (an internal reference designation), with PR2 W50 in smaller text.
But we are assured it won’t be called the Tribu in production, and in truth the model looks closer (though nowhere near identical) to the IBX concept of 2011, rather than the Tribu of 2007. Nor will it make any kind of reference to the Leon name, even though the off-roader will be based on the same underlying VW Group ‘MQB’ platform as the