VW's Seat unveils affordable family car
Toledo will go on sale first in crisis-hit Spain and Portugal
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the expected prices of the Toledo.
Seat is launching the five-door Toledo compact hatchback as an affordable family car as the Volkswagen Group brand seeks to win buyers hit by the economic crisis.
The Toledo's value-for-money positioning marks a shift of emphasis by Seat, which has so far concentrated on building sporty cars to differentiate itself from sister brands VW and Skoda.
Paul Sevin, Seat's sales and marketing boss, said it makes sense for the brand to offer an affordable, mainstream car.
"We are known for our attractive cars which are dynamic to drive with high levels of technology and engineering and our customer profile is the youngest in VW Group, but we should also care for more conservative and practical demand," he said.
Seat's home market of Spain where car sales have fallen sharply during the economic crisis will be the first country to get the Toledo along with neighboring Portugal, in mid November, followed by the rest of Europe during 2013.
The car will also be sold in Mexico and Turkey, but not in China where the brand recently started sales.
Seat has not disclosed pricing but the Toledo is expected to cost 13,000 euros to 20,000 euros in Spain. It will be positioned above the Leon compact car and below the Exeo mid-sized model.
The Toledo is styled to look like a sedan but it has a large, wide-opening rear hatch. It will be built in Skoda's factory in Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic, alongside Skoda's sister model, the Rapid.
Both the Toledo and the Rapid will likely be unveiled to the public at the Paris auto show in September.
The latest Toledo is the fourth generation to bear the name. Seat stopped selling the third generation in 2009 after its unconventional high roof shape and rear end inspired by the Renault Vel Satis was heavily criticized as deterring buyers.
With a length of 4480mm, the new Toledo is 20mm longer than its predecessor from 2009 with a 22 mm longer wheelbase. Seat will tout its large loading capacity and roomy interior to attract family buyers.
The car will be offered with a choice of 1.2-liter and 1.4-liter gasoline engines and a 1.4-liter diesel.
Seat is launching a product offensive to boost flagging sales. The brand has just launched the Mii minicar, a sister model to the Volkswagen Up and Skoda Citigo.
Seat's global deliveries fell 12 percent to 134,300 in the first five months
You can reach Joaquim Oliveira at firstname.lastname@example.org.