SEAT are continuing their current IB”insert random letter here” naming strategy with the the IBL concept they unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Hot on the heels of the IBE, IBE Paris Concept, and IBX, the IBL is a clean and simple sedan which borders on the dull-looking. The rear 3/4 angle is the best, and from there it has a certain something that looks very Alfa Romeo-ish, in particular the well-proportioned 156 springs to mind. The front end and headlight arrangement is probably the least successful element of the design. The slit-like headlights, and cringing mouth at the bottom make it look like it’s staring into the sun while simultaneously sucking on a lemon.
The SEAT IBL has been designed to fit into the sports sedan section of the market. Being a SEAT, one of VW’s less luxurious brands, the IBL has to walk a fine line between being affordable and desirable. The new head of SEAT Design, Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, reckons the IBL’s styling is all about love at first sight. Personally I think it’s going to depend on whether you first see it from the front or the back.
At 4.67 metres (15.3 feet) long and 1.85 metres (6 feet) wide, the SEAT IBL falls into the European full-size sedan category. The long wheelbase of 2.71 metres (8.9 feet) gives it short front and rear overhangs which give it a more sporting profile while also improving the interior space. The rising shoulder line and neatly truncated tail lend additional support to SEAT’s claims this is a sports sedan.
The interior of the IBL is again a bit of a let down. You hear the words “sports sedan” and immediately you imagine the calculated ergonomics of an Audi, or the stylish Italian eccentricities of an Alfa Romeo cockpit. But with the SEAT IBL you get something that looks like it was inspired by a 1990s hatchback. The only acknowledgement that this car is from 2011 apparent from the inside is the piano-black instrument panels and multifunction displays.
It’s all a bit of a shame really. With a few tweaks SEAT could turn the IBL into something which looks appealing and contemporary. But as it stands now the exterior is too dull, and the interior too dated to keep the competition awake at night.
SEAT’s President, James Muir, has made it quite clear that the IBL isn’t a precursor to a production model, but that it is instead another concept which is designed to showcase the company’s new design direction. Hopefully they’ll get a few of their styling issues resolved before they take their new designs out of the Beta phase.