From concept to reality: 29 years of SEAT SUVs

In the past three decades SEAT has developed its path to SUVs with concept cars

SEAT has revealed the concept cars that paved the way for its acclaimed current line-up of SUVs.

The list of conceptual designs goes back nearly three decades and includes such gems as the youthful, beach-inspired Marbella Playa Concept, the Salsa Emoción with its three different drive modes and the IBX, which signalled the beginnings of SEAT’s electric SUV ambitions.

SEAT’s current SUV line-up – Arona, Ateca and Tarraco – first started to emerge in 2016 and now accounts for 45 per cent of the brand’s UK sales.

Here are the SUVs that set the wheels in motion for today’s line-up:

SEAT Marbella Playa Concept: At the 1991 Frankfurt Motor Show, SEAT unveiled the Marbella Playa Concept. The bold design, in the shape of a pick-up, was ideal for enjoying leisure time. With a different grille, positioned higher than the Marbella, it featured a 40PS engine.

Xavier Villanueva, a designer of exteriors at SEAT, said: “It stood out with bright, youthful colours as well as round foglights at the front.”

Salsa Emoción: To celebrate the 25th anniversary of its Technical Centre in 2000, SEAT introduced the Salsa Emocion, which was equipped with three drive modes (Off Road, Sport and Street) in a system called “Multi Driving Concept”. The 250PS engine and 310mm ground clearance enabled it to tackle any off-road terrain.

“It features lateral tension lines for the first time that will later evolve on the IBX to look more like those on the SEAT Arona,” explains Xavier.

Tribu: SEAT unveiled the Tribu at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show in a package that showcased SEAT’s distinctive SUV characteristic for the first time: off-road design, ample ground clearance and a compact silhouette. “On the Ateca, we can now see squarer wheel arches, and the nestled triangular graphics of the rear lights defined a style that inspired the SEAT Tarraco,” adds Xavier.

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