Seat IBE concept

It surprised many to see this concept on the Seat stand. A white exterior model only, it was missed by many designers at the show - its limelight stolen by the VW stand next door and Audi's A1. The overall impression did little to counter a suspicion that Seat is sometimes the VW group's forgotten marque, and that its positioning in the overall brand hierarchy is somewhat unclear.

However, the design is not to be dismissed, because on closer inspection the IBE is well resolved, and previews design boss Luc Donckerwolke's new language for the Spanish brand. Essentially a B-sector hatch, it is shorter, wider and lower than the Ibiza, endowing it with a strong set of proportions - the wheel at each corner, gently flared wheelarches and sharply defined rear shoulder giving the car a strong stance and planted feel.

The overall surface treatment is quite simple, but extremely well resolved. Note the flanks of the car, which seem to 'clasp' the inner body the section - the cant rail and A-pillar (which both sit slightly proud of the roof and windscreen) continuing into a sharp 'rib' over the top of the fender. This line terminates at the inner corner of the upper headlamp 'finger', which are similar in shape to the LED strips Audi is currently using in its headlamp units - but here set into the body surface - and repeated again at the rear of the car.

A lower light catcher successfully takes excessive mass out of the flank, while the discontinuous shoulder line (a theme on many cars in Geneva) works well, creating a visual link with the Ibiza, and defining a particularly strong rear shoulder surface, which flows elegantly around to the upper surface of the trunk. Designed to show Seat's (and the wider VW group's) electric drivetrain technology, it was also pleasing to see the Spanish brand eschew the trend for overt use of green highlights and graphics, instead using a printed circuit board motif in the lower grille, which is subtly echoed by the grooves in the brake discs to denote the powertrain.

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