Volkswagen Wants to transform SEAT into Alfa Romeo Rival

Discussion in 'Auto News' started by FT-1, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. FT-1

    FT-1 Premium

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    I get why this is happening since Skoda and SEAT appear to be stepping on each others toes nowadays, with the former being more popular. But is it really possible to move the SEAT brand to the sporty and premium side of the market? That's pretty much the purpose Audi serves in the VAG portfolio.
     
  2. CSMDuty11

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    Maybe they'll just re-work Audi to be the Maserati of the group. R8 and TT not withstanding
     
  3. FT-1

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    That could be possible in the far long term although I doubt that will happen within the next 5 years seeing as Audi have recently unveiled cars such as the new A1 and Q3 which appeal to the younger demographic - Which is basically what SEAT would aim for if they were pushed upmarket. If anything, the portfolio could look like this:

    Skoda = Budget VW (Conservative styling and comfort focus)
    SEAT = Budget Audi (Sportier and more dynamic)
     
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  4. TheCracker

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    Alfa Romeo hasn't really been a sporty, sexy brand since the late 60's, early 70's. They were largely a crappy Italian rust-bucket manufacturer between the mid 70's and mid 90's. Since then they've tried to improve their brand image, but mostly by trying to be a cheaper BMW/Merc/Audi alternative with a few retro touches. What is Alfa Romeo? - surely depending on how old you are, it means very different things. I can't think of many other manufacturers who have a more divisive brand image as Alfa do.

    Do SEAT really want to echo a time when Alfa produced cars with dull econo-box Japanese styling with the worst of 1970's Italian build quality?

    Do they want to try and echo a period in Alfa's history that their target market has no memory or concept of?

    Or are they aiming to echo what Alfa has tried to been perceived as since the mid-nineties, which is a cheaper Audi - which is really what SEAT already is?

    :confused:
     
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  5. Eunos_Cosmo

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    I'm impressed at how invulnerable Alfa Romeo's brand cache is.
     
  6. homeforsummer

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    I have a suspicion it's because with a few exceptions, the cars were genuinely better than people make them out to be nowadays.

    It's long irritated me, even before I got a job in the industry, that every time a new Alfa comes around journalists will bang on about how Alfa hasn't made a good car for three decades, yet skimming back through old magazines Alfas were frequently group-test winners - often beating BMWs, Audis, Mercs etc - and given high ratings in reviews.

    The bigger problem is that people have unreasonably high expectations of the brand for whatever reason - maybe heritage - so no matter how good a new Alfa is, people want it to be even better.

    Moon on a stick. Or the Toyobaru problem, if you like. "We want an affordable rear-drive sports car focused on fun" "Here you go" "Couldn't you have made it even more affordable and even more fun?".

    Alfa took a big step up in quality, design and engineering in the mid 90s, all praised by the media at the time. They've made more good cars than bad ones since then (they've certainly not been paddling in a pool of crap trying to stay afloat), but throw a stone at a random journalist and they'll tell you the current Giulia is the best car Alfa's made since the 60s. It's getting pretty boring.
     
  7. kikie

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    To all 25 - 35 y.o GTP members; what is Alfa?
     
  8. Eunos_Cosmo

    Eunos_Cosmo

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    My experience with the brand is limited (like most Americans, probably) but I will say I drove a 159 JTD wagon around Italy for a week (about 1200 miles) and it was fantastic..I couldn't decide whether I preferred looking at it or driving it, but I enjoyed both heartily. I would probably own that exact car if I lived in Europe.

    I have a theory that 3 traits generally determine the ultimate long-term desirability/value of a car/brand:

    -Beauty
    -Uncommonness
    -Significance/Provenance

    I think Alfa Romeo has generally 2 out of 3 of those traits (beauty & uncommonness) which has helped support/maintain the brand's fond following for decades. It also helps (the brand) that quite a few Alfa Romeos have nailed all 3 traits.

    Seat will have to really go something to get 2/3 of those categories (I would argue the brand has 0/3 categories at this time) and compete with Alfa at it's own game.
     
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  9. kikie

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    What does this even mean? Is Seat going to make sportscars like the 4C, or a Giulia Quadrifoglio like very fast sports sedan?
     
  10. TheCracker

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    I think they tread on too many other VWG toes if they set their targets on those 'halo' Alfas. What i assume they mean is that they'll try and imitate Alfa's youthful sportiness image across their range with some stylish designs on what will probably be the usual fairly mundane VW underpinnings. But that's kind of what i thought SEAT was already doing?
     
  11. MatskiMonk

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    Good move for VW IMHO. SEAT doesn't really make sense to me in its current state, and last time I looked it was making a loss for VW. A less Germanic seeming offering would help give it some identity and potentially boost sales.
     
  12. homeforsummer

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    I can fix SEAT in two words: Yellow paint.

    Seriously. They've been building boring-ass cheap VWs for decades now, but you could at least get them in bright colours and they tended to have a few more ponies for their less money. Whatever the current policy is means they now offer cars that are basically identical to VWs once you overlook the styling (and post-Walter de Silva they're attractive but fairly nondescript), and you only get a marginally lower price as compensation.

    Skoda is going to have the same issue at some point. They're great cars, and you tend to get a bit more space for your money than with the equivalent VW, but they no longer feel like the bargain they used to. Whether an Octavia vRS 245 is less than a Golf GTI and has more space or not is broadly irrelevant if they're still asking £28k for it (and a slightly quicker Golf GTI 230 is only about £500 more). Back in 2002 when the vRS was new it was £1300 less (at a remarkable £15,100 - about £23k in today's money) and a significantly better car than the Mk4 Golf GTI at the time.

    I'm sure the VW Group is still doing well for itself even despite the dieselgate stuff, but brand differentiation at its lower levels is probably worse than it's ever been. SEAT has virtually no USP, Skoda is getting too big for its boots, and VW itself has purged the only vaguely interesting models it used to make like the Scirocco and Beetle and is unwisely still pushing for premium despite Audi sitting above it doing exactly that job.

    So SEAT needs yellow paint. It also needs a price cut, and it really needs a Mii version of the Up GTI - something the head of Cupra told me wouldn't happen because there "isn't demand" for it, despite the Up GTI having a 12-month waiting list :banghead:
     
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  13. TheCracker

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    Perhaps that's where SEAT's niche needs to lie. A Scirocco replacement with a SEAT badge.

    Their current sharp-edged, Lamboghini-esq styling is, in my eyes, some of the nicest designs in those size segments and would lend itself well to a hatch-based coupe shape. Give it a lower-rent Skoda quality interior (with plenty of cost options to keep the base price down) and as you say, paint them - and more importantly advertise/promote them - in some nice bright modern colours and suddenly SEAT has something to offer the other MQB-platform sharers don't.
     
  14. homeforsummer

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    Sadly their Cupra strategy seems to be to paint SUVs in a mixture of grey and bronze (that well-known eye-catching combination) with drivetrains otherwise lifted wholesale from the equivalent VW, perhaps with an extra ten horses.

    Whereas a bright yellow Mii Cupra would be basically a licence to print money.

    Or indeed a coupe, as you say. And I don't mean a half-assed three-door Leon or Ibiza. I mean a low-roofed Scirocco-style thing. Bring back the Bocanegra name used briefly on the Ibiza a few years back which referenced the old 1200 Sport:

    seat-1200-sport-2.jpg
    They need to do something. I know coupes aren't where the money is these days but it frustrates me that despite the big piles of cash manufacturers do make on SUVs and the like they aren't prepared to entertain doing something that may not be as lucrative but would hugely enhance brand image. I can't imagine the TT makes much coin for Audi compared to diesel A3s, but it's still a big part of what makes the brand desirable (on a more accessible level than the R8).