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New Cupra Tavascan concept previews future halo electric car

The new Cupra Tavascan concept is an all-electric coupe-SUV, and it's being considered for production

­­This is the Cupra Tavascan, an SUV coupé concept from the Spanish performance brand and a vehicle that is already being lined up for production.

The SEAT offshoot’s second unique model, which follows the Formentor, is making its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and it hints very strongly at a future all-electric halo offering. Indeed, Auto Express has learned that the project already has a model code and that its development has been prioritised at the expense of the mooted Cupra Ibiza and Cupra Arona, both of which have now been canned.

• Cupra Ateca in-depth review

Auto Express had an exclusive sneak peek at the Tavascan with Alejandro Mesonero, head of design for the SEAT and Cupra brands. “The car is a simple design,” he said, “but it has a striking look that doesn’t leave you without an opinion. You may like it or not. But it has an impact, and I think that is very important for Cupra.”

Cupra has made no statement on whether the car is destined for production but Mesonero told us, “Nothing has been decided 100 per cent yet but our idea is to come back in the next few years with something extremely similar to this.”

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The striking shape of that carbon-fibre body is largely dictated by aerodynamics. The front end features two large ‘S Duct’ vents leading through the nose section and out of the bonnet, while the bumper is hollowed out to either side of the illuminated Cupra logo in order to 
smooth airflow across the sides.

Around the back the LED tail-lights, which match the lighting signature of the sharp front units, sit at the top of the boot lid. An aggressive kamm tail along with a large rear diffuser help to reduce lift without increasing drag. Even the 22-inch alloy wheels have intricate fins so that they produce minimal turbulence.

The cabin is more conceptual than production ready, but its 13-inch infotainment screen, complete with totally new graphics and layout, will find its way into new Cupra and SEAT models in the near future. The screen’s ability to electrically rotate so that it either faces the driver or front passenger is less likely to make road-legal models any time soon, however. The instrument panel is shown on another digital display measuring 12.3 inches.

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Under the skin, the Tavascan will ride on the same MEB platform that will soon form the basis of a huge range of VW Group electric vehicles. As Cupra’s halo model, it will pack the most potent drivetrain that MEB can handle. A twin-motor set-up (one on each axle for four-wheel drive) delivers a total of 302bhp, translating into a 0-62mph time of less than 6.5 seconds. A 77kWh battery pack promises a 280-mile range.

SEAT’s board member for technical development, Axel Andorff, said the decision to work on the Tavascan had been a straightforward one, even though it means axing the Ibiza and Arona variants that were teased at the original Cupra brand launch in February 2018.

“If you have the chance to do a Cupra Ibiza or a Cupra Tavascan, which would you do?” he said. “Even if this is hard for some people to hear, sometimes you have to say no. And for the Ibiza and Arona there is a clear decision: not to bring them to market.”

Q&A with Axel Andorff

Axel Andorff joined SEAT as board member for technical development in the spring. In his first interview, he talks about the challenges of developing the VW Group’s small electric vehicles.

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Q: Your team at SEAT is leading development of the VW Group’s new ‘MEB entry’ platform for smaller cars. Has the process actually started?

A: “Yes, we have a team working on it now. What we already know is that just a little improvement of the main MEB platform on costs and so on will not be sufficient for what we need for a small electric car.”

Q: The new ID.3 and your own el-Born take advantage of the all-electric platform to offer more cabin space. Is this principle part of the ‘MEB entry’ project, too?

A: “If you set up a totally new platform, why shouldn’t you use the advantages that it brings? We have had a lot of discussions about this; we have a sophisticated platform strategy in the Group, with plenty available. But when you are convinced that EV is the approach you should follow, of course you try to use to the maximum the benefits that an EV provides.” 

Q: The VW Group has announced plans to electrify its city cars, including your Mii Electric. Is that the future of this smallest class of vehicle, in your view – that they have to be electric? Or are you working on a successor to the regular Mii? 

A: “What we have to do is to focus a little bit. The VW Group is huge and we can afford to do more than others, but we have to focus. Right now we are evaluating these small BEVs to come up with an idea of how a car below MEB could look. It would be good if we could focus on this.”

Click here for all the latest in the build-up to the Frankfurt Motor Show...

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