TARRAGONA, Spain - The face-lift of the Arosa mini is the latest phase in Seat's attempt to reinvent itself as stylish, sporty brand.
Seat is also distancing the redesigned Arosa from the Volkswagen Lupo, its twin model in the VW group.
The Arosa has a bold new look. With the large Seat logo in its center, the front grille now runs the full width of the hood. Both the body-colored bumpers and front wings are larger and wider. Seat says the double headlamps behind clear glass give the Arosa a more energetic image.
Seat's design director Walter de' Silva did not face any design restrictions with the Arosa face-lift.
'We had total freedom in our creative work,' says de' Silva, who joined Seat from Alfa Romeo in late 1998.
'Our main consideration was how to integrate the Arosa into Seat's current model lineup. The most difficult part was integrating the new grille and front end with the wings, and visually balancing it.'
Compared with the old model, 50 percent of the face-lifted Arosa is new. Improvements include a new suspension system and a stiffer chassis construction. Investment in the new car was more than DM100 million (E50.6 million).
Seat wants to attract more male buyers with the new, dynamic-looking Arosa. Currently more than 60 percent of Arosa owners are female. The average age of an Arosa buyer is about 40. The Arosa is also a typical second car, with 75 percent of owners possessing one or more vehicles.
With the Arosa, Seat will not adopt the 'green' approach of its supereconomical VW Lupo sibling.
'There will be no `three-liter' Arosa, at least not in this vehicle generation,' says Seat marketing director Jorn Hinrichs.
But in safety standards the Arosa does not lag behind its technically identical twin from Wolfsburg. The Arosa is offered with two front and two side airbags, antilock brakes and electronic stability program.
In several countries some of these safety features are optional, but driver airbag, height-adjustable steering wheel and electronic immobilizer are standard in all markets.
De' Silva says: 'The restyled Arosa proves that Latin temperament and daring lines are an integral part of Seat's DNA - even for its most junior member.'
Dorothee Ostle. Martina Goeres contributed