These are very busy times for the Seat factory in Martorell near Barcelona. The Ateca, the Spanish brand’s first Suv, is just the first in a spate of new models to be released in quick succession – three over the next 18 months – putting the final pieces into place of Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos’ courageous and successful new design philosophy, which first appeared in 2012 with the León and should finally be complete in 2019 with the arrival of a premium SUV derived from the captivating 20V20 concept presented last year. “The Ateca – explains Mesonero-Romanos – illustrates the systematic evolution of our design language. Our design is sculptural and charged with tension, and defined with precision and quality in every detail.”
“It is a crucial challenge”, says Seat CEO Luca de Meo. “The Ateca – explains Mesonero-Romanos – already contains many elements of the 20V20 concept, such as the bonnet, just to give an example. The next page in the chapter, coming in a year, will be a completely new car – not a SUV – taking us a step further in the path towards a very bold evolution in design.” Seat has a linear strategy: “After a period of consolidation, taking us to 2019-20, there will be a second phase of very significant evolution, followed by a third phase in which we’ll be able to do very different things and reap the rewards of what we’re doing now.”
The Ateca inherits elements from the brand’s iconic model, the León, such as the trapezoid grille, the lateral blister with tightly radiused curves, the extremely precise lines and the triangular lights – in short, all the features creating the family feeling. On top of this is the Suv factor, with generous, powerful proportions which, according to its designers, convey solidity and reliability, as do the slightly squared arches and 19” wheels.
The idea for the exterior came from Christian Felske: “We really liked the design – says Mesonero-Romanos – because it had elegance, few lines and was well structured and proportioned”. After pencil and paper sketches and a great deal of virtual work, six 1:4 scale models were built, followed by three full scale clay mock-ups. Launched in 2012, the Ateca programme was developed by Mesonero-Romanos’s entire team, with Joaquin Garcia on the exterior, Jaume Salas on the interior and Jordi Font on C&T.
“The Ateca – explains Seat’s design chief – has a very intuitive appearance, like the muscles of the human body, so the surfacing has very strong accents, embodying the typical squared cues of SUV’s despite measuring just 4.36 metres in length (it is based on the MQBA platform). It has a rational side, too, derived from adapting the style of the León to an SUV. So the lines are progressive and soft, but with the muscles emphasised in much more structured and much straighter surfacing, which also accentuates the difference between the SUV and a hatchback. The family look is the same, but with two different interpretations.” This is a well designed car, with no unnecessary artifice to ruin its looks.