Spanish car maker Seat re-enters Singapore tomorrow, with four model lines in the local range. Here’s a guide to who’s who and what’s what…
SINGAPORE — Seat cars are back. The Spanish car maker is re-entering Singapore officially tomorrow, when new importer Vertex Euro Motors opens the doors to a newly-renovated showroom.
The VW-owned carmaker last sold cars here in 2003, and ceased operations when importer ComfortDelGro quit the motor trade.
This time around, the brand has a much more enthusiastic partner in Vertex, which is perhaps best-known for importing cars from China’s Chery.
“We had to bring this brand in,” says Sng Khai Hing, the new dealer’s executive director.
She had been looking for something to bolster Vertex’s brand portfolio, and spotted Seat’s cars at a motor show in China. “The cars were exciting and sporty,” she says. She knew she had found The One. Jon Tan, the sales and marketing manager for Seat here, says it was like love at first sight.
Vertex approached Seat in 2013, but found the brand reluctant to return. Sales were booming in Europe and there the focus stayed.
“We convinced them that it was going to be a loss for them if they didn’t come in,” says Ms Sng. The clincher? Vertex showed Seat numbers from the Land Transport Authority that suggested a huge growth in the COE Quota after 2013.
For its part, Vertex was drawn to Seat for more than its cars’ sporty styling. “The key to this brand is that it has a full range of cars reaching out to all aspects of our target audience,” says Mr Tan. With four main model lines, it has everything from a supermini for young drivers to a full-size seven seater, he points out.
Vertex intends to add the Ateca to the lineup here next year. Based on the Volkswagen Tiguan, the five-seat crossover will give the brand a vital model in a growing market segment.
In the meantime, Mr Tan says Vertex has invested heavily in the business. Bringing the showroom up to Seat’s corporate identity standards cost nearly $1m, while a further $7m went into stocking spare parts, buying back-end equipment, and so on.
“My boss is very determined to make this a success,” says Mr Tan.
But while Vertex has spent millions to prepare for tomorrow’s relaunch, there is a sense that Seat did not completely disappear from Singaporeans’ radar. “We do not really feel like we are starting from zero,” says Ms Sng.
For one thing, she points out, Singaporeans are well-read and well-traveled enough to have some idea of Seat’s existence.
Old fans of the brand have also been in contact with Vertex, eager for news. Long before the showroom’s renovations were done, prospective customers would peer through the windows for a peek at the cars, she says.
Brand enthusiasts won’t have to do that now that the showroom is open, of course, but if it all goes to plan, they’ll have plenty of Seat cars to look at on the road.
SEAT’S SINGAPORE MODELS
Seat Ibiza 5D 1.0 EcoTSI
Think VW Polo with spicy styling (Luc Donckerwolke, who did the Lambo Gallardo, designed it). The 110hp supermini has a seven-speed twin-clutch auto from you-know-who.
Seat Leon 1.2 TSI
VW’s Golf is an excellent car, which is good news for Seat: the Leon is a sister car built on the same mechanical platform. It has a 110hp TSI engine with a seven-speed DSG, and should prove frugal. The ST wagon version is also in town.
Seat Leon Cupra 290
Every major European manufacturer has its hot hatch, and this one is spicier than most: the Leon Cupra has a 290 horsepower engine and the muscle to hit 100km/h in 5.7 seconds. For the price, it’s a performance bargain.
Seat Toledo 1.4 TDI
Fun fact: the Toledo is the first car that Seat developed under VW ownership. Here, the four-door sedan has a 90hp turbodiesel (with a seven-speed DSG), which gives it outstanding fuel economy.
Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI
Built in Portugal alongside its sister car, the Volkswagen Sharan, the Alhambra is named after a Spanish castle. Must be why it’s so big inside. We’ve driven it, and found the diesel engine remarkably quiet.
*yes, yes we know it’s pronounced “say-aht”
Watch this to see just how VW-like the Seat Alhambra is
New SEAT importer Vertex Euro opens its doors tomorrow with a range of cars that start at $95,000. Here’s a quick look at the brand’s flagship. Read about Seat’s local lineup here — http://tinyurl.com/seatcarsSG #seatcars #alhambra #vertex SEAT SG / Vertex Euro Motors
Posted by CarBuyer Magazine on Thursday, 13 October 2016