Seat Officially Unveils New Leon


Spanish hatchback previews new Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia.

A vital product for Seat, the Leon has been on the market now essentially unchanged since 2005. Yesterday the first images of an all-new Leon, two years in the making, leaked onto the intertubes, and now Volkswagen's Spanish subsidiary has released the full monty. Like the smaller Ibiza, the third-generation Leon will be offered in three forms: 3-door hatchback, 5-door hatch and estate wagon. It's based on the same modular VW Group platform as the new Audi A3, and previews the upcoming new Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia.

With design cues taken from the IBE Coupe Concept of 2010, the Leon is distinguished by LED lighting and, thanks to the lighter platform, is about 90 kg lighter than its predecessor, against which it measures 52 mm shorter, 48 mm wider and 4 mm higher. Five gasoline engines and four diesels, all featuring direct injection and turbocharging, are available from VW's engine range, including a 1.2 TSI with 85 horsepower or 104, and a 178-hp 1.8 TSI. A 1.4 TSI will arrive later with 120 or 138 hosepower. Oil-burners include 89- and 104-horsepower 1.6 TDI and a 2.0 TDI with 148 or 181 hp.

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Transmission options range from five- and six-speed manual to six- and seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes. The new Leon line-up will also include the Ecomotive and sporty FR and Cupra models as per the current car.

Inside, the cabin will be markedly improved as this was an area of the second-gen car often criticized for its blandness. Higher-spec models will get a range of leather and Alcantara trim, while Seat is providing enhanced multimedia systems and connectivity in the form of its Easy Connect operating system and five-inch color Media System Touch. Look out for the five-door at the Paris Motor Show in September and the other two versions next year. Pricing information should be announced after the car's live debut.