22 March 1996

Seat challenges big boys

By Andrew Faulkner

FITTERS and mechanics, along with other farm van users, traditionally drove the oval blue badge of Ford – anything from a Fiesta-based van to a tool-laden Transit. But brand loyalty, particularly in the commercial vehicle sector, is a notoriously transient thing.

Firms such as Vauxhall, Renault, Citroën and Fiat all now have a significant stake in the van market, producing a plethora of models in a range of shapes and sizes. And from the end of next month yet another name joins the list – Seat.

Part of the massive Volkswagen Group, Barcelona-based Seat has largely concentrated on sending passenger carrying cars to the UK over the past 10 years. With the launch of its Inca van, built on a VW Polo chassis, the Spanish firm enters a highly competitive light van sector in which the likes of Fords Courier, the Vauxhall Combo, Fiat Fiorino and Renault Extra currently dominate.

Creating a niche in this already crowded 0.5t payload class will be no easy task, as Seat readily admits. So the firm is launching the Inca in an attractive warranty/spec package, specifically designed to tempt first-time buyers away from the mainstream.

First to the mechanics. The Inca comes with a three-year warranty backed up by AA cover, while service interval on the VW-sourced indirect injection diesel engine is 10,000 miles. This, Seat claims, gives low running costs which are all but fixed up front.

Specification is generous, too. Power steering, radio cassette, drivers airbag, load bay liner and bulkhead partition all feature on the standard equipment list.

Whether these strengths are sufficient to tempt buyers into opting for what is still a relatively unknown name, remains to be seen.

&#8226 Model: Seat Inca van.

&#8226 Engine: 64hp, 1.9-litre diesel.

&#8226 Transmission: Five-speed, manual.

&#8226 Payload: 550kg (1212lb).

&#8226 Load length: 1728mm (69in).

&#8226 Load capacity: 2.9cu m (102cu ft).

&#8226 Claimed fuel consumption: 40mpg (mixed driving)

&#8226 Price: £7895


The Seat Inca joins the UKs 0.5t light van sector from end-April. Right: Standard spec includes load bay liner.