Another VW Group company with a lot to shout about this year. SEAT showed their first ever open-top car. It is also their first mid-engine / rear-drive layout, and it looks as if they have done it properly - witness the Formula concept car.
Styled by ex-Lotus designer Julian Thomson, the stunning roadster houses a turbocharged 2.0-litre, 20 valve, 4-cylinder engine, packing a hefty 240bhp punch. SEAT claim that the fully functional concept is capable of up to 146mph, with an awesome 0-60mph time of only 4.8 seconds. Not surprising then that the engine is based on the SEAT WRC unit!
Proving that SEAT have not cut corners is the lightweight (900kg) aluminium chassis and a sophisticated 6-speed sequential-shift gearbox. Add to that F1-style horizontally-mounted Penske dampers, and a retracting rear spoiler for stability and SEAT appear to have a very serious sports car on their hands.
You wonder why they have done it? I'll tell you. VW want SEAT to become the Alfa Romeo of the VW Group, with very sporting cars competing in the small to medium market sector. The Formula may not be produced, but do not taken by surprise if a new roadster (to rival the Alfa Spider) is launched next year with some of it's ideas. I am drooling at the prospect.
The other car shown on the left is the Toledo Cupra. This is currently a design concept, intended to provoke interest in the new Toledo to be launched this Easter. It is likely that the range will be topped by such a model however. The aggressive show car features a 204bhp, 30 valve V6 engine, mated to a four-wheel drive chassis. We'll keep you posted.....