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First look: Seat shows stylish new hand

Trials and Tribu: City-SUV concept heralds a new design future for Seat.

New Seat designer goes for broke with an edgy compact SUV concept at Frankfurt

18 Sep 2007

VOLKSWAGEN’S Spanish outpost Seat has wowed crowds at the Frankfurt motor show with a lithe-looking compact SUV concept that also happens to be the first vehicle styled by its new (ex-Lamborghini) design director Luc Donckerwolke.

Dubbed Tribu, it exposes a dramatic new design direction that highlights traditional Seat themes like full-length character lines that extend to the rear wheels, but introduces angular Lamborghini-style detailing and shapes.

They include a trapezoidal grille, headlights and air inlets, but there is also complex, Chris Bangle-style bodyside surfacing, while just-for-show elements probably include the windscreen that becomes a full-length panoramic roof and then a large, tail-light-concealing tailgate.

Extending its youthful theme inside, the four-seater Tribu features seat-integrated seatbelts and dashboard screens to display various information, depending on which vehicle mode is selected (Urban, Sport or Freerun).

140 center imageSeat says the Tribu alters its engine management, suspension and transmission performance accordingly. The accessible, sports-oriented European brand, which has not been represented in Australia showrooms for nearly a decade, also says a 4WD system lies underneath – despite the Tribu concept’s 20-inch chromed alloys.

Looking very much like a city SUV courtesy of its mildly extended ride height, roof-rails and roof spoiler, the small three-door wagon also “heralds the advent of a new wave of Seat models, and is therefore highly significant”.

Sadly, most of them will not be destined for Australia, where the VW Group must first make successful the introduction of the German giant’s Czech brand Skoda, which arrives here next month via the Roomster hatch and mid-size Octavia range.

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