New Cupra Tavascan electric SUV production still on hold
Cupra has still yet to make a decision on whether its Tavascan electric crossover will make it to production. A concept car previewing the model was first shown at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show but bosses have confirmed that plans to introduce the car to market are on hold.
The electric crossover concept hinted at a future halo model from Cupra, based on the VW Group’s MEB dedicated electric car platform. The concept was previewed with a 77kWh battery and two electric motors developing 302bhp, and it was widely expected to make showrooms within the next couple of years.
However, Cupra boss Wayne Griffiths has said that the firm is currently focusing on plug-in hybrid versions of the Leon and Formentor, as well as the new el-Born electric hatch. “The Tavascan is still a project we are working on, I think it’s a car we really need particularly for the Cupra brand and the concept got excellent reception,” Griffiths explained to Auto Express. “But we still haven’t made a final decision on development or manufacturing on the car. I am pushing for it.
“With all the other things we have on our plate, we have enough on at the moment, launching the Cupra brand and plug-in hybrid versions. Our product range has gone from zero to six, seven, eight cars very fast.”
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.”
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.
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.
Axel Andorff joined SEAT as board member for technical development in the spring of 2019. In his first interview in September 2019, he talked about the challenges of developing the VW Group’s small electric vehicles.
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.”
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