The messy divorce between Fiat and SEAT forced the latter to redesign and rename its entire lineup. After a long court battle, the Ritmo became the Ronda, the Panda became the Marbella, and the 127 became the Fura.
The 127 was introduced in 1971 and was rather outdated by the time it morphed into the Fura. However, it was a solid car and SEAT needed to keep it around for a little longer while it developed new models.
Hot hatches were at the peak of their popularity in the 1980s, and SEAT decided to jump on the bandwagon. The brand was no stranger to sports cars; it had gained a substantial amount of experience in the field over the last decade by building cars like the 124 D FL-90 2000 and the 1200 Sport.
SEAT decided that its hot hatch would be based on the Fura. It was a time-tested design and a light car, making it the ideal starting point. Fiat had already demonstrated the car’s potential when it launched the 127 Sport in the late 1970s.
SEAT set off to develop what would become the Fura Crono, introduced in 1983. The first step was to shoehorn a 1,438cc eight-valve four-cylinder into the Fura’s engine bay. The engine had powered a myriad of Fiat and SEAT models in the past, including the 124, the 131 and the Ronda. In the Fura it was tuned to 75 horsepower. Top speed was rated at about 100 miles per hour, and 0-62 miles per hour was achieved in 10.8 seconds. The four-banger was mated to a five-speed manual transmission that spun the front wheels.
Those specifications were a direct shot at Fiat. The Fura Crono out-powered and out-accelerated the 127 Sport. Furthermore, at 1,675 pounds, it was very slightly lighter than its distant Italian cousin.
The Crono stood out from the rest of the Fura lineup thanks to fender flares, two big fog lights mounted in front of the grille, and spoilers front and back. The car sat on model-specific 13″ rims mounted on wider tires. The standard Fura’s independent suspension was retained, though it was slightly stiffened, and front disc brakes were fitted.
The standard Fura was sold as both a three-door and a five-door hatchback, but the Crono was only available as a three-door. Three colors were on the menu: red, silver metallic, and black metallic.
SEAT inaugurated the Copa Fura shortly after the Crono’s launch. It was a promotional racing series opened only to Fura Cronos that was similar to the Renault Gordini Cup from the late 1960s. The event became very popular because it gave young drivers the chance to enter the racing world on a tight budget. Abarth developed a kit for race-bound cars that bumped the power output to 90 horsepower thanks to engine and exhaust modifications. The Abarth cars were few and far between even in the 1980s, so they are extremely rare and sought after today.
Unfortunately, SEAT never exported the Fura Crono, and it was virtually unknown outside of Spain. Its career ended in 1985 and SEAT did not build another hot hatch until the Ibiza SXI was launched in 1988.