It was approximately 15 years ago that Seat left the Singapore automotive industry. But the Spanish marque has since returned to the scene through local distributor Vertex Euro Motors, opening its doors to the new Sales and Service Centre at 3 Ubi Road 4 in October 2016.
The decision to bring Seat back into Singapore was sparked when representatives from Vertex spotted the car at the Beijing Motor Show in 2013. Built based on platforms from Audi and Volkswagen, its models share the same engines and gear boxes. “When we set our eyes on the car, we thought: ‘Why is this car not in Singapore yet? I’m sure Singaporeans will love it,’” shares Sng Khai Hing, executive director at Vertex. “So that’s why we started to talk to seat and tried to convince them to bring this car back in Asia.”
But it was no easy task to convince the automaker, who had left the continent completely years ago.
“They were a bit reserved because they were not too sure about the Asian market,” explains Sng. “They weren’t sure about what the industry is like over here so we talked to them, fed them with information until last year when they said: ‘OK, let’s do it.’”
With the showroom, the brand offers four models from its line-up — the four-door Toledo, the supermini Ibiza, the seven-seater Alhambra and its flagship hatchback, the Leon. Along with the new space, Seat also launched its fastest car to date, the Leon Cupra, which boasts a maximum power of 290bhp.
In the coming year, the automaker will be introducing its latest addition to its fleet: The Ateca, a five-seater urban SUV. Sng shares more about the brand and its latest offering.
Tell us more about Seat. What is unique about the brand?
Seat has a very long Spanish heritage. It has a sporty design that is from a period where they had bull-fighting and things like that. It’s the lifestyle and heritage that it sells [with its cars]. The niche of Seat lies in that we have the best of German technology and at the same time, the flamboyance of Spanish design.
How is Seat involved in motor sports?
Seat has a motor sports arm that develops better engines and reliability to push the envelope of motor sports. [For example,] the Leon Cupra is a three-door sports coupe, which illustrates the dynamism of the brand to try and make sure that it is at the forefront of an engineering breakthrough.
Could you share a little more about the Seat line-up?
Leon is our flagship vehicle. It’s a five-door hatchback targeted at young professionals. It offers a sporty dynamic drive and comes equipped with the latest technology and it’s beautiful to look at. The Ibiza supermini is targeted at people who want a car that drives sportily and has high efficiency. The Toledo is a four-door sedan for the family because it’s spacious and has a very big boot space. The Alhambra is a seven-seater. It’s great for large families with kids, who like going on long road trips. There’s also a built-in child seat, which is very convenient and save space.
What about the new SUV?
The Seat Ateca is the first SUV in the whole history of Seat, because of the global trend towards sporty SUVs. It was launched in Europe recently with the left-hand drive so the right-hand will come later. We’re pushing for to be launched [in 2017].
How do you think Seat will appeal to high society?
Seat builds cars that look good, are nice to drive and have very good technology behind it. It fits perfectly into the lifestyle of the driver. For high society individuals, yes, they love fast cars or very luxurious ones, but I think Seat fits in very nicely because it looks premium and the drive is very enjoyable. They will love it as a second or third car, or even for their children.
Any plans for Seat to move into other Asian markets?
Most likely. We’re looking around to explore opportunities. Singapore is a very good market for them because of our cosmopolitan society but I think I will leave that for the brand to announce.