SEAT prides itself as being the world’s ‘youngest, sportiest, and most design-driven car manufacturer, and indeed it walks the talk. Its lineup of good quality cars range from the practical SEAT Alhambra to the sporty SEAT Ibiza. The star of the range, the mid-sized Leon, is a strong contender to the Ford Focus and VW Golf.
SEAT vehicles are respectable offerings. In fact, they are a fantastic bunch of well-engineered cars that wow on the road as well as in the looks department. It’s hard to go wrong with a marque under the wings of the Volkswagen Group, which happens to be one of the world’s most respectable automakers.
SEAT: The Beginnings
Spanish automaker Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo (SEAT, S.A.) was created on May 9, 1950 by the Instituto Nacional de Industria (INI), a state-owned industrial holding company.
With the aim of ‘motorising Spain’, SEAT took over the city car market with much success. It was producing an average of 10,000 vehicles per year by the mid-50s and hit the 1 million mark in the following decade.
In the 1970s, SEAT began participating in national formula races and earned sporting credentials by the end of the decade. During the ‘80s, Volkswagen took the company under its wings, made much improvement in the styling department and focused on establishing its ‘sporty’ identity.
From chunky and often dusty Spanish boxes, SEAT cars were transformed into sophisticated VW doppelgangers with better handling and sporting abilities.
Today, SEAT is the only major Spanish automobile manufacturer with the infrastructure and the ability to develop its own cars in-house, producing over 16 million cars in total by 2006.
A Hot Bunch of Impressive Cars
SEAT cars are some of the sexiest and most reliable out there. Leading its range is the Leon hatchback which takes after the VW Golf, only cheaper and sharper in guise. The Leon cars offer superb handling balance and economy with both petrol and diesel engines.
The SEAT Leon suits all tastes as it comes in different models: the three-door Leon SC, a standard five-door Leon, the practical Leon ST estate, the rugged ST X-Perience and the high-performing Cupra.
If you love the Volkswagen Up, then you’ll appreciate the cheaper yet equally impressive SEAT Mii. This city car draws attention from younger buyers who are after sporting characteristics at an entry price. It’s a willing machine that’s fun to manoeuvre and feels solidly built.
One of SEAT’s strongest vehicles is the Alhambra, a very functional, VW-quality MPV. The Alhambra offers space and pace like a luxury limo. It’s a superb car to move a family especially with optional transformer chairs that can change into kiddie seats. It’s fun to drive too, with a selection of efficient engines and a sporty drive. Anyone who admires the performance and practicality of the Volkswagen Sharan will appreciate this price cut alternative.
Reliability and Great Value in SEAT Cars
In the range of SEAT vehicles are four other great value cars: the Altea, Altea XL,Toledo and Ibiza.
The Altea and Altea XL are both good looking and practical in equal measures. However chunkier than the Leon, these five-seat people carriers ride well and come with a range of decent engines.
Meanwhile, the Toledo’s striking quality is the amount of space you get for your money. SEAT focused on making this model a practical family car with cheap-to-run engines and good driving controls that make motoring incredibly easy.
The SEAT Ibiza, which is based on the VW Polo, is a smart buy. For a few good thousand pounds less, you’ll get VW dynamics and build quality along with a wide selection of decent engines. It’s as trendy as its target market of younger buyers, looking pretty hot with a distinctive grille and front bumper.
Depending on your motoring needs and budget, you can choose your Ibiza engines among the meagre 1.2 petrols, a dependable 1.6-L TDI, an economical 1.2 TSI and a pricier 1.4 TSI FR. There are also some brilliant turbocharged petrols in the range, offering decent performance at low running costs.
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