Seat makes Goodwood debut

The Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK is over for another year, and we’ve already brought you our favourite five cars from the occasion, which is the biggest gathering of classic and performance cars in Britain.

But we did not mention a spectacular appearance from a manufacturer making its debut at the Festival; Seat.

The Spanish brand appeared at Goodwood for the first time, and it brought some of its most exciting cars to the show. The cars showcased exactly what Seat stands for; attractive, sporty cars matching style with power.

This was none more evident than in the Seat Ibiza Bimotor, a twin-engine car designed to take part in rallying during the 1980s. Unsurprisingly, the car triumphed at the Spanish rally thanks to its unique twin-engine layout.

So it was perfect timing for us to head down to the Top Gear track and try out two more modern Seat cars designed with performance in mind – the Seat Ibiza Bocanegra and the Seat Leon Cupra R.

You can read our thoughts on the hot hatch models in our review section here, but needless to say, we were extremely impressed by the performance and handling from the two cars.

Even the Seat Leon Cupra R, with 261bhp of power, delivers respectable CO2 emissions of 190g/km and fuel economy of 35mpg.

While this is nowhere near those of a standard hatchback, it also sits below a traditional hot hatch, highlighting the fact the Spanish brand is growing up and is now capable of finding a balance between performance and running costs.

Which brings us seamlessly on to another model displayed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed at the seat stand. The Seat IBE concept car has not been confirmed for production, but the sporty hatchback hints at a possible future design direction for the likes of the Leon.

However, it is also an all-electric car, using a 100bhp motor alongside reductions in weight to theoretically power the model.

It may not be joining the ranks of the electric cars entering the UK market just yet, but it shows Seat is serious about electric power and intent on not ruining its reputation for stylish looks and fun driving dynamics.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed debut was a successful one for Seat, and its UK head of marketing, Steve Robertson, agrees.

He said: ‘The whole event could not have been more of a success for us! I’m especially pleased that the Goodwood Action Sports arena, presented by SEAT, drew such large and enthusiastic crowds throughout the weekend."

We look forward to similar success next year for Seat at one of the best weekends in the British motoring calendar. In the meantime, here are some of Seat’s highlights from the 2011 Festival.