Don't try this at home, folks.

Cars are so chock full so sophisticated cameras, these days, that it must be getting to the point that you almost don’t need to look out the windshield. With so many high-resolution views available on the infotainment screen, surely you can drive perfectly safely just looking at that, right?

Volkswagen Group’s Spanish subsidiary SEAT has put that theory to the test. Its new Ateca SUV is available with a 360-degree ‘top-view’ camera that gives a notably wide field of view. To test it, a course simulating an urban environment full of tricky turns and obstacles was set up, and the Ateca’s windows completely covered.

A passing German couple was asked if they would like to give it a go and, well, who wouldn’t? Stefan climbs into the driver’s seat, rather sceptical about the whole thing, and sets off a bit tentatively. But he seems to build confidence in the system quickly and completes the course without a hitch. Much to the relief of his instructor, no doubt.

“What a fantastic experience!” Stefan says as he gets out. “And what a great feature.” He’s not wrong. Personally, I don’t rely on camera views to carry out a manoeuvre, but they certainly make life a lot easier.

And it goes without saying, of course, that you shouldn’t try this at home.

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  • A German couple rises to the challenge of driving a car with all the windows covered up
  • The Top View camera on the new SEAT Ateca is equipped with four cameras, which enable 360-degree viewing around the car
  • The challenge was carried out on a closed urban circuit under the supervision and guidance of skilled instructors

Martorell, 22/07/2016. – Today we are close to the beachfront in Barcelona, looking for volunteers to take on our challenge: drive around in a vehicle with all the windows covered up. Can it be done?

“Completely covered? No, I don’t think it can,” says Stefan, a German tourist who is a big fan of Barcelona. “Would you like to give it a try?” we respond. “Of course I would!” he is quick to answer. So we lead him and his wife to the closed urban circuit where a SEAT Ateca is waiting by an instructor who will be on board at all times. Stefan can only navigate by using the screen, which offers a 360-degree view around the car thanks to the four cameras that are installed in the vehicle. A top view image is shown inside on the monitor, an especially handy feature when manoeuvring into a parking space.

Stefan is joined by an instructor in the front passenger seat: “All you have to do is drive within the lines,”, he says, and the challenge begins. “This is great!” exclaims Stefan. “I can’t see a thing outside, but it works!” “It’s just like a video game,” says the instructor. “How’s it going?” asks his wife from the rear seat. “Easy!” says Stefan with a smile. And the rest of the challenge goes off without a hitch, full of laughter and excitement. Driving forward, driving in reverse; turning to the right and left. The screen offers precise navigation, at times leaving our volunteers speechless. “What a fantastic experience!” he admits after completing the circuit. “And what a great feature,” he concludes.  

SEAT is the only company that designs, develops, manufactures and markets cars in Spain. A member of the Volkswagen Group, the multinational has its headquarters in Martorell (Barcelona), exporting more than 80% of its vehicles, and is present in over 75 countries. In 2015, SEAT’s turnover amounted to over 8.3 billion euros, the highest in its history, and the company achieved worldwide sales of more than 400,000 units for the first time since 2007.

SEAT Group employs more than 14,000 professionals at its three production centres – Barcelona, El Prat de Llobregat and Martorell, where it manufactures the highly successful Ibiza and Leon. Additionally, the company produces the Ateca and the Toledo in the Czech Republic, the Alhambra in Portugal and the Mii in Slovakia. 

The multinational has a Technical Centre, which operates as a knowledge hub that brings together 1,000 engineers who are focussed on developing innovation for Spain’s largest industrial investor in R&D. SEAT already features the latest connectivity technology in its vehicle range and is currently engaged in the company’s global digitisation process to promote the mobility of the future.