When he laid down the foundations for the future Ibiza, Luc Donckerwolke could never have imagined that Project SE 250 would take him to head of Seat design. The year was 2004 and he was comfortably settled in at the Lamborghini style centre at Sant’Agata Bolognese, where he headed a small and highly creative team assigned to him by chief of design for the Volkswagen Group Walter de’ Silva, which also occasionally produced styling proposals for other brands in the group.
One of these projects was for the new generation B segment Seat, which was to take Donckerwolke from Italy to Spain – from the marque of the raging bull to the land of the bull. In August 2005, de’ Silva and the group management asked him to oversee the development of his alternative proposal at the Seat style studio, which was based at Sitges at the time and has now been replaced by the new Martorell design centre. He began working together with the Seat team straight away and was officially appointed its director the following October.
Walter de’ Silva has a soft spot for Seat, it was with this brand that he joined the Volkswagen Group in the late 1990s. At the time, the Ibiza III project was already almost complete. “For the fourth generation, Luc and myself dedicated a lot of time to building a new image. I like to be involved personally in model development. He brought fresh vision, his experience from Lamborghini with extreme cars and concepts and gave a very personal, dynamic interpretation of Seat design.”
Donckerwolke’s arrival coincided with a change in direction for the project, based from the very start on Volkswagen’s new PQ25 compact platform (which will also be used for the new Polo due in 2009). “We started in March 2004 with two differently configured body variants.
A three-door with an architecture rather similar to the existing Ibiza and a five-door closer to an MPV”, recalls Donckerwolke. Under his guidance, however, the project took a more dynamic, sportier turn. The five-door assumed proportions more similar to those of the three-door, while the latter gained more accentuated coupé-like features. The seats were lowered, with an H point reduced by 20 mm, the wheels grew in diameter and the overhangs – especially at the front – were shortened to maintain the very cab forward look of the A pillar seen on the Leon, where there is continuity between the bonnet profile and windscreen, but not to such a degree that it looks like an MPV.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 171