Paul Horrell03 March 2010

Geneva show: Seat IBE concept

Electric coupe concept showcases Seat’s new design language

Geneva show: Seat IBE concept

Seat's official company line is that this, the IBE, is a concept coupe to show off a new VW Group modular electric drive system. The design chief says it shows us the company's new design language: 'a rolling DNA concentrate.' There's a lot of new-Leon in here.

The designer in question is Luc Donckerwolke, who in his old job at Lamborghini did the Gallardo and Murcielago. So he's got previous. This is his manifesto for Seat.

The IDE is remarkably, er, unshowy for a show car. No mad curves or levitating wings or rocket booster pods. But Donckerwolke says good design is about paring stuff back. "You should design with the minimum number of design elements. Then subtract one. So this car has no bluff or fireworks," he says.

What's left after all that reduction? A little coupe, shorter than an Ibiza but very wide, with narrow wheels. A compact electric motor snuggles under the bonnet. The compact surface-mount LED lights are possible for production in two years' time.

When we first clapped eyes on the IBE, we were a bit underwhelmed. But like many subtle things - and unlike Patum Peperium anchovy paste - it's definitely growing on us. The trick is to carry the purity to production and not let it get blanded-out to make the engineering easier.

Donckerwolke knows this. "Design is about battles. If I don't have a fight every day, I don't go home happy." We've always found him a charming fellow. But suddenly we're glad we don't have to work with him.

Paul Horrell, Consultant Editor of Top Gear magazine

See what else is being revealed in Geneva

Now share it...

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear's code of conduct (link below) before posting.