The list of conceptual SEAT SUV designs goes back nearly three decades and includes such gems as the youthful, beach-inspired Marbella Playa Concept, the Salsa Emoción with its three different drive modes and the IBX, which signalled the beginnings of SEAT’s electric SUV ambitions.

SEAT’s current SUV line-up – Arona, Ateca and Tarraco – first started to emerge in 2016 and now accounts for 45 per cent of the brand’s UK sales.

SEAT Marbella Playa Concept

At the 1991 Frankfurt Motor Show, SEAT unveiled the Marbella Playa Concept. The bold design, in the shape of a pick-up, was ideal for enjoying leisure time. With a different grille, positioned higher than the Marbella, it featured a 40PS engine.

Xavier Villanueva, a designer of exteriors at SEAT, said: “It stood out with bright, youthful colours as well as round foglights at the front.”

Salsa Emoción

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of its Technical Centre in 2000, SEAT introduced the Salsa Emocion, which was equipped with three drive modes (Off Road, Sport and Street) in a system called “Multi Driving Concept”.

The 250PS engine and 310mm ground clearance enabled it to tackle any off-road terrain.

“It features lateral tension lines for the first time that will later evolve on the IBX to look more like those on the SEAT Arona,” explains Xavier.


SEAT unveiled the Tribu at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show in a package that showcased SEAT’s distinctive SUV characteristic for the first time: off-road design, ample ground clearance and a compact silhouette.

“On the Ateca, we can now see squarer wheel arches, and the nestled triangular graphics of the rear lights defined a style that inspired the SEAT Tarraco,” adds Xavier.


In early 2011, SEAT released the IBX, a concept that gave continuity to the SUV design DNA now founded, but with more sculpted lines. The IBX was equipped with full LED lighting and an electric hybrid engine.

Xavier commented: “The high front end, compact passenger compartment, taut surfaces and assertive looking headlamps are a few of its traits that can now be seen on the Ateca and the Arona.”


The most recent addition to the concept car line-up was the 20v20, a pre-cursor to the Ateca SUV. The 20v20 featured a sporty coupe design with an SUV personality, however connectivity was its main characteristic.

At its core was Personal Drive, a touch device in the shape of a coin that worked as a mobile navigation system and remote control to activate the car’s climate control.

Altea Freetrack and Leon Cross Sport 

Unveiled to the world at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show, the Altea Freetrack was the culmination of the Multi Drive concept, while the Leon Cross Sport, presented in 2015, combined the performance of a compact sports car with the versatility of an all-wheeler.

From concept to road ready:

These concepts have all shaped the DNA of the SEAT SUV family, Arona, Ateca and Tarraco. Even though each one features its own personality, all three share designs made in Barcelona.

The result is that SUVs now account for more than 45 per cent of the brand’s sales in the UK in 2019.

“Solid sporty proportions, front ends with a bold personality and attention to detail combined with the latest technological advances are the similarities that are reflected in the current range,” adds Xavier.

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