Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Drinking the Kool-aid Pt. 1: Seat loves Audi

Something odd happened at the Geneva Motorshow today: Seat’s little IBe inherited some LED-powered glitz and glamour from big-sister brand Audi.

The question is, if these headlamps were behind you, could you tell which one was your granny in the Seat and which one was your Daddy in the Audi?

No, thought not.

Seat’s long been the “What the… ?” brand of the Volkswagen stable, battling it out with Skoda as the cheapest point of entry and popular with those wanting more sex in their C-Segment.

Often billed as a sports brand, it’s really nothing of the sort, having suffered  from a wave of failures-to-proceed with gorgeous-if-vaporous Walter da SIlva-penned concepts and titillated Golfs with suspensions of pure jackhammer.

Three different Seats. No, I can't tell them apart either...

Many of Walter’s styling cues did get carried over into more prosaic cars, yet the Toldeo, Leon and Altea all stick so dogmatically to the snouty, drop-waistlined theme that it can be impossible to tell them apart from some angles.

da Silva eventually left for Audi and Donkerwolke, fresh from taking an ice-pick to Lamborghinis, stepped in and took a machete to a Polo and produced the new Ibiza and a new house style. Then he turned the old Audi A4 into the Seat Exeo to produce a cheap D-Segment competitor. Now it seems Donkerwolke has been busy turning the new Seat IBe concept back into an Audi, from a lamp graphics perspective at least.

It probably wont be a bad thing for Seat, lending it some street cred with the tuner crowd (a core constituency) if doing nothing to help build a truly distinct image (which is what Seat truly needs).

But one really has to wonder what this kind of thing does to the image of Audi, a brand that, up until now, has had the warpaint LED look all to itself.

It’s all very odd.

Category: Design Strategy

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One Response

  1. Massimo says:

    AUDI has used LED technology, just to cash in ….in perceived quality…

    THEY MUST UNDERSTAND….or you really do something extreme……….or every LED LAMPS in the world will look the same….

    and once again

    designers swapping,
    deprived creativity,
    and poor management,

    wins over beauty…(because these lamps are all rather than beautiful)…

    but in reality in this case is the all car looking like an AUDI (see profile, proportions and details like the C pillar and the rear face..)…

    I said few days ago that BERTONE PANDION, was the world most pointless concept in the world….this SEAT beats it by far…as the most pointless in the universe…..

    I am wondering is car design becoming so predictable…if so what a waste…..

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.