SEAT boss Luca De Meo has officially confirmed that the Spanish brand's SUV lineup will grow to include a new flagship, seven-seat SUV. He also told Auto Express that the SEAT Formentor name is under consideration."Formentor for sure is one of the names we are considering, but there are a number of others", he said.
Speaking at a press conference in Barcelona, De Meo said of the new SUV: "I can tell you we will see it in 2018", adding "I'm optimistic that we can be very successful with this car - when I see the comparative tests that the Ateca is winning in Europe, we think we can be a very credible entrant to this larger sector".
SEAT's offering is likely to replace the Alhambra MPV in its line-up; the firm currently has no plans for a direct successor to the traditional seven-seat people-carrier, which has been performing well but in an ever-decreasing segment of the market. De Meo said SEAT intends to “have a similar group of customers to Alhambra" for the new SUV. this is why this platform exists, so we can have a very quick market entry for an SUV”.
Based on the modular MQB platform shared with the Skoda Kodiaq and expected to be very similar in size, De Meo says the platform means SEAT is ideally poised for "a very quick market entry" into the large SUV sector. The new model sits above the Ateca and forthcoming smaller Arona. It'll feature several styling cues from its smaller siblings, the choice of five or seven-seats and a range of turbo petrol and diesel engines.
The new SUV won't be built at SEAT's Martorell plant - where models such as the Ibiza are made, and also Audi's Q3 and forthcoming new A1. That plant is already near full capacity, so production will take place in Wolfsburg where platform-sharing models like the VW Tiguan are built.
No name has been confirmed as yet, but De Meo claims "There are plenty of famous Spanish cities available for us to use [for a name]". SEAT has applied trademark applications for a clutch of new nameplates - one of which could end up on the new SUV. Barna - a colloquial name for Barcelona used by locals, and Mallorca - the largest of the Balearic islands, have both been applied for in recent months. However, SEAT has also applied for Formentera, swiftly followed by Formentor - the tweak suggesting this is the name most attention is being paid to in-house.
SEAT delivered 320,000 vehicles in Western Europe in 2016 - an increase on the year before - although CEO Luca Deo Meo has admitted the full effect of the Ateca (which only launched in July) will be felt at the end of this year. The new SUV will play a crucial role in the Spanish brand's continued growth. Operating profits are already up to €143m, the first positive figure since 2007.