Monday, 5 August 2013

SEAT needs to find its signature dish

WHEN Withnail and I paid a visit to Penrith they demanded the finest wines known to humanity. When my companion and I ended up there, on a soaked excuse for an evening last week, we ended up staring at the menu outside a Spanish restaurant.

I mention this because – even with every other restaurant in town shut for the night – we still preferred to pop to the nearest chip shop instead because we just didn’t fancy Spanish cuisine. There’s nothing wrong with Spanish cuisine, of course – we just decided we’d rather dine on something slightly more familiar.

It’s exactly the same, I reckon with Spanish cars – by which, of course, I mean SEAT. So far this year, I’ve tried both the new Leon and the hatchback it replaced, and both ticked all the buttons in a nourishing, one-of-your-five-a-day sort of way. Both were effortless when they were on the motorway, entertaining when they weren’t and built with the sort of attention to detail that’d give a chess champion a headache.

Great cars, then, but I can’t think of a single reason why you’d buy one.

SEATs are supposed to be the sportier Spanish cousins of VWs but they aren’t – they are, especially if you look at the Mii and the Alhambra, VW models with a slight nip ‘n’ tuck and a different badge. If I want a VW with a sense of mischief, I’ll get a Golf GTI.

"But SEATs are usefully cheaper than VWs, aren’t they?" I hear you cry. Again, SEAT’s usurped on this one by Skoda, who not only make their cars cheaper than VW’s but more interesting and engaging too. The Yeti, in particular, fills a niche nobody else at Europe’s biggest car maker does by being the perfect car for anyone who owns a Labrador, while the Superb caters perfectly for anyone looking for a car with an overly confident name. They might as well have called it the Skoda Awesome or even the Skoda Screw You, It’s Better Than Your Car, Mate.

SEAT, on the other hand, produces a range of cars that are just as good as anything VW, Skoda and Audi can come up with but there’s no signature dish to woo you with its exotic aromas. There’s no impossibly powerful Leon Cupra R any more, or a small sports car to fill the gap the Fiat Barchetta and the MGF left. Reheating what was admittedly a great dish – the old Audi A4 – in the microwave is not going to get my tastebuds going.

For now, my vote’s still with fish and chips. The Ford Focus, in other words.

1 comment:

  1. wow.. really elegant car... I love to have one.. I want a red sports car.