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All-new SEAT Leon will cater for petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric car buyers

Published 29 January 2020

SEAT is looking to build on the sales success of the Leon with a new generation of its popular family hatchback. The 2020 Leon goes on sale in March with prices expected to start in the region of £20,000.

The all-new SEAT Leon goes head to head with rivals like the Ford Focus and Mazda3, and will be available as either a five-door hatch or sports tourer. Power will come from a range of petrol, diesel, mild-hybrid, and plug-in hybrid engines when it goes on sale in the UK in March.

The Leon was the Spanish carmaker’s top-selling model in the UK in 2019, contributing to a global sales total of 574,000 units. And SEAT has bet the farm on the new Leon being a winner, investing €1.1bn in the project and upgrading the factory. Like the new Golf, the latest Leon is based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB Evo platform.

This is essentially an all-singing, all-dancing platform that caters for petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric power – all of which will be on offer in the new Leon. We’ve already seen that platform in action with the latest Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia, where it has proved itself extremely competent – but we’ll have to wait a few months to see how it performs here.

010-Leon -FR-Desire -Red _5D_High

The Leon will also have a similar in-car tech offering. Buyers can expect seamless Android Auto and CarPlay connectivity, greater user control via a smartphone app, and real-time wireless software updates. Leon also gets a smartphone-esque touchscreen that allows you to simply slide your finger across the screen if you want to turn up the heating.

From the outside, it looks as if SEAT has returned to its days of being a Spanish Alfa Romeo. While the new car may share very little in terms of panels with the outgoing model, the looks are clearly an evolution of the Mk3.

The final production model has shied away from the steeply raked grille in favour of a traditional flat front, while the updated model gets the new family face, debuted on the Tarraco. At the rear, it’s the ‘coast-to-coast’ full-width LED taillight that does the heavy lifting and gives the car its identity.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the bonnet is a touch longer on the new model, but the bulk of the design work has been done to make the car’s lines less fussy. Gone are the ‘lightning strike’ front light clusters, swapped in favour of a much more rounded design.

051-Leon -FR_High

Buyers will be able to choose from a range of trims: SE, SE Dynamic, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence, and Xcellence Lux. Seven colours are available: candy white, pure red, Nevada white, midnight black, desire red, mystery blue, and magnetic grey.

All Leons get keyless start, two USB points in the front, LED auto-dip headlights, electric heated side mirrors, electric parking brake, leather steering wheel and gear stick. SE Dynamic upgrades the infotainment system to the digital cockpit, while FR trim adds sportier front and rear bumpers as well as 17in wheels and a lowered ride height.

Under the bonnet, the engines can be mated to a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearbox. Petrol engines start with a 110PS three-cylinder 1.0-litre while the 1.5-litre four-cylinder is available in 130PS and 150PS. The most powerful petrol will be a 190PS 2.0-litre.

All diesels are 2.0-litre with either 115PS or 150PS. While mild-hybrids are available with the 1.0-litre 110PS and 1.5-litre 150PS petrols. There will also be a plug-in hybrid electric version of the Leon using a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine electric motor mated to a six-speed DSG transmission. It will be good for 204PS and can be fully charged in under three-and-a-half hours.

Comments

Engineer Andy    on 30 January 2020

To me, this new version looks far better than the new VW Golf, and the rear of the car reminds me of the latest KIA Ceed.

DeadBat    on 30 January 2020

Better than latest Golf for sure, but to me front looks like Ford Focus and rear like Skoda Scala. Shame that they will use the same crappy VAG engines and DSG. Would also like to know the predicted MPG figures.

Engineer Andy    on 30 January 2020

The 'kangerooing' issue looks like its now been resolved by the software patch on existing 1.5TSIs or them doing a work-around by adding in a mild hybrid system on the new batch/generation of cars (took them long enough to both acknowledge and fix the issue) - which is good as the performance and mpg of these engines are still near the top of the tree.

As you say, the general reliability of the cars, especially their DSG boxes, in my view, leaves a lot to be desired, and ze Germans still insist on adding in quirky ways of laying out their engine bays etc, making accessing components for maintenance, replacement and emergency use (e.g. batteries) a real pain compared to many (but by no means all) of the Oriental makes.

I sometimes wonder if they deliberately do this to make extra work for their dealerships. As I'll almost certain go for a car with an automatic gearbox next time, I won't be buying any VAG unless and until the DSG woes and longevity issues are resolved. The DCT equivalent from Hyundai/KIA looks far more robust, but the technology concept still doesn't lend itself to driving in heavy, stop-start traffic nor close-quarters parking, especially on steep gradients.

The best CVTs are better in that regard, but at the cost of that whining noise when pushed during harder acceleration, TC autos still the best all-rounder in terms of reliability and comfort, at the expense of mpg and performance, at least outside of paying £££ for a BMW.

The Leon would be on my list if it weren't for the DSG issues. A shame - nice car otherwise, and about 20% cheaper (especially after discounts) than an equivalent Golf, whether this version on the previous generation cars. The 3dr SC on the previous version was the best loonking, reminding me of the early-mid 2000s Civic Type R, especially in FR and above form.

DeadBat    on 31 January 2020

@Engineer Andy I get your point re 1.5TSIs. My concern is that this 1L engine will be too small for a car this size.

I understand that they do that to be in line with the latest emission tests, but what about the MPG (it will not be close to the official figures) and reliability in a long run?

Engineer Andy    on 31 January 2020

@Engineer Andy I get your point re 1.5TSIs. My concern is that this 1L engine will be too small for a car this size.

I understand that they do that to be in line with the latest emission tests, but what about the MPG (it will not be close to the official figures) and reliability in a long run?

The 1.0TSI is a (light pressure) turbo-charged engine, so the power/torque will be fine - both of which are higher than 'traditional' naturally aspirated 1.6 petrol engines like the one in my old Mazda3 (105PS) , which is about the same sized and weight.

The VAG 1.0 MPI (non-turbo) is, I believe, only ever in their really small cars and may be being phased out anyway. There are enough reviews of the 1.0 TSI to say it is a good engine, performance wise, when in 95PS+ form in the Polo and below and 110PS form in the Golf/Leon etc. The Octavia, whilst on the same platform, is a bigger car and it may well be a bit slow if it was used in it rather than the 1.4/1.5TSI.

As yet, I don't recall any issues with the non high performance (ie. below200PS) TSI turbos unless they were red-lined all the time and not idled for 30 sec at the end of a long journey at high speed/when towing. No different to any turbocharged car. I suspect that advice is probably only for towing.

DeadBat    on 1 February 2020

@Engineer Andy I get your point re 1.5TSIs. My concern is that this 1L engine will be too small for a car this size.

I understand that they do that to be in line with the latest emission tests, but what about the MPG (it will not be close to the official figures) and reliability in a long run?

The 1.0TSI is a (light pressure) turbo-charged engine, so the power/torque will be fine - both of which are higher than 'traditional' naturally aspirated 1.6 petrol engines like the one in my old Mazda3 (105PS) , which is about the same sized and weight.

The VAG 1.0 MPI (non-turbo) is, I believe, only ever in their really small cars and may be being phased out anyway. There are enough reviews of the 1.0 TSI to say it is a good engine, performance wise, when in 95PS+ form in the Polo and below and 110PS form in the Golf/Leon etc. The Octavia, whilst on the same platform, is a bigger car and it may well be a bit slow if it was used in it rather than the 1.4/1.5TSI.

As yet, I don't recall any issues with the non high performance (ie. below200PS) TSI turbos unless they were red-lined all the time and not idled for 30 sec at the end of a long journey at high speed/when towing. No different to any turbocharged car. I suspect that advice is probably only for towing.

Thanks for the explanation.

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