The all-new SEAT Leon will arrive next year, with a plug-in hybrid model likely to follow in 2020. It has been spied testing for the very first time, wearing very little camouflage, ahead of its reveal in 2019.
Caught here is the estate bodied ST version of the Mk4 Leon, which boasts a mild design evolution over the outgoing version of the car. It's possible to make out the new family face, however. The redesigned grille and headlights form a look extremely similar to the one we've seen in leaked images and spy shots of the Tarraco – the Spanish brand's upcoming seven-seat SUV.
The fourth-generation Leon will form a key part of a major product offensive from SEAT – the most intensive rollout of new or heavily revised models in the Spanish company’s history. It's also a key car from an electrification point of view, and a plug-in hybrid variant has been confirmed for release in 2020.
Dr Matthias Rabe, the firm’s board member with responsibility for research and development, told the press last year: “It's our biggest push ever. We've had Ateca, now Arona, the renewal of Ibiza, the facelifted Leon. But it’s only now that we really accelerate; over the next three years we'll see six or seven new models, and most of them will be totally new.”
The next generation of Leon will continue to be based on the VW Group’s MQB platform technology – the same chassis parts that underpin the current car as well as the Skoda Octavia and VW Golf. However, we can expect SEAT to stretch the Leon’s wheelbase by a few millimetres in a bid to boost rear cabin space. Three-door variants will be dropped, with only five-door models and ST estates making showrooms.
The engine line-up will look familiar, too, with 1.0 and 1.5-litre petrols, and a 1.6-litre diesel. It is also likely to get at least some of the electronics architecture from the forthcoming Mk8 Golf – allowing the potential for a 48V-based mild hybrid, although this may arrive later in the car’s life. The plug-in arriving 2020 will be able to travel 31 miles on electric power only.
The overall profile of the third generation of Leon will remain similar – although as previewed by our exclusive images, it’s likely to get a revised front-end appearance. “The styling of the car is not a revolution but it’s a big evolution,” said Rabe. “You will be able to see that it is a Leon; you won’t be able to mistake it for any car in the segment. But that is what we’ve been working on, across our range; now we have a clear, consistent product design identity.”
SEAT EVs on the way
Alongside the Leon PHEV, SEAT has confirmed that a bespoke, all-electric vehicle will arrive in 2020, which is likely to take on the SEAT Born name when it arrives.
What do you think of the images of the next SEAT Leon? Let us know in the comments...