The all-new, fourth-generation SEAT Leon has been revealed before its public debut at the Geneva motor show next month. Despite being based on the same underlying chassis as the current model, the new Leon has grown both proportionally and technologically to give the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Mazda 3 quite a headache.
While the Leon doesn’t appear immediately different from before, it is 90mm longer, with designers modifying the overall shape to give it a longer bonnet and more upright profile. The bodywork itself is more curvaceous too, dominated by a new character line that stretches from front to back, making the Leon look more grown up and sophisticated from most angles. The lighting itself is also more ornate, following car design’s current trend of integrating a full-width light-bar on the tailgate. An estate model will also be launched alongside the hatchback sharing the hatch’s sophisticated new design language.
Subscribe to evo magazine
What’s hidden underneath the new Leon is less differentiating though, as it combines the same basic ingredients found in the new Golf and Skoda Octavia. For the moment, the Leon is available with three- and four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines with up to 178bhp and a solitary diesel. All Petrols are available with an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic – a six-speed manual is otherwise standard fit. Some versions fitted with a petrol engine and automatic transmission come with a 48V mild-hybrid system incorporating a subtle combination of regenerative braking and extended stop-start capability, but for the full hybrid effect a 204bhp plug-in hybrid combining a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and electric motor is also available.
Inside is where you’ll spot the biggest change though, with a totally new dash architecture that highlights on the Leon’s digital interfaces. All versions except the basic trim level combine a TFT digital driver’s display with the 10-inch dash-mounted infotainment screen you’ll recognise from the Mk8 Golf. The rest of the interior is simple, geometric, and features new design flourishes such as a wraparound ambient lighting strip to jazz up the otherwise pretty austere cabin.
The good news is that the new Leon also signals an imminent arrival of high performance Cupra Leon performance derivatives. As before, we expect both the hatchback and estate to be realised in Cupra forms, and for it to be available in plug-in hybrid form for the first time. Before you baulk at the notion of a hybrid Cupra Leon, it’s worth noting that a petrol-only version with close to or over 300bhp will likely be sold alongside it.
As the current Leon Cupra leaves us though, it goes out on a high with the recent Abt-tuned Leon Cupra Estate proving that there is still plenty of life left in the current combination of hardware that will be shared with this fourth-generation model. Short of some modern accoutrements, the current Leon Cupra is a blast, and with an improved interior and technology package, could combine into something very interesting indeed.