SHOWCASING an upcoming electric car alongside a performance crossover highlights the crossroads at which car makers find themselves.
The focus is on electric, but there is still going to be a healthy market for traditionally powered sporty cars for some time.
So while SEAT is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the electric el-Born in late 2020, its performance offshoot Cupra is pushing ahead with the new Formentor, also due next year. But even it has green hues: it will be a plug-in hybrid.
Both cars were unveiled in concept forms at the Geneva, but they are telling us the ones you see here are pretty much the production versions, visually at least.
SEAT el-Born: The el-Born will be SEAT’s first electric car on sale here. An electric version of the Mii has been launched, but won’t be sold here.
It will be the second electric car built on the MEB platform after Volkswagen’s ID.3.
In the metal, it is stylish, sitting a little higher than a regular hatchback to accommodate the batteries, but lower than a full-on crossover.
A forward positioned A-pillar not only gives a more dynamic look but allows for better interior space – the el-Born is noticeably roomy inside.
Stand-out design elements include an air curtain – essentially a little winglet along the side in front of the rear wheels, while inside, a digital cockpit integrated into the steering column looks futuristic and practical.
On all important range, SEAT say the rear-wheel-drive el-Born will cover 300km to 420km on a single charge of the 58kWh battery.
It can accept fast charging up to 100kW – in theory, enough to cover 260km in just 30 minutes.
It should feel quick, as well – the 204PS motor will accelerate to 100kmh in just 7.5 seconds.
Cupra Formentor: SEAT launched Cupra as a separate brand last year, with its derivative of the Ateca crossover, but the Formentor will be the first unique product from it. However, expect to see less-powerful SEAT badged versions of the Formentor following shortly after.
Like the Ateca, it’s a crossover SUV. Although similar in size, it’s a little lower, wider but shorter than the Ateca. Although they haven’t given us a huge amount of information about the final spec, the notable feature is plug-in hybrid technology that will allow the car to travel for up to 50km on electric power on a single charge.
A total output of 245PS is quoted, though we may see the 300PS 2.0 litre TSI in the Ateca for an even more powerful version. It’s also 4WD-ready, I’m told.
Easy Move: If you feel bamboozled by the sheer number of options when ordering a car, you will like SEAT’s simplified approach, which will be rolled out later this year.
Easy Move essentially consolidates the myriad options into a limited number of specification trims; you only have choose the engine and colour. It seems to make a lot of sense.