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SEAT Leon hatchback and estate get new engine options for 2021

The SEAT Leon range has been bolstered for 2021 with the addition of new petrol and diesel engine choices

SEAT has given buyers greater choice with new petrol and diesel powertrains for its most popular car, the Leon

The SEAT Leon hatch is now available with a 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine developing 187bhp and the Leon Estate now has the option of a 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 113bhp. The more powerful TSI unit is available exclusively with a DSG automatic, whereas the TDI can be mated to SEAT’s six-speed manual.

Pricing for the new petrol option starts at £28,810 in hatchback FR guise and the TDI Estate starts from £24,515 in SE trim. 

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Elsewhere in the range, SEAT’s first ever plug-in hybrid Leon costs from £31,835 - starting in FR trim and rising to £35,060 for top-spec Xcellence Lux. Badged the SEAT Leon eHybrid, it pairs a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with a battery and electric motor for a total output of 201bhp and 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds. More importantly, official fuel economy of up to 235.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 27g/km have also been claimed. 

At the bottom end of the Leon range entry-level SE prices start from £20,405 for the hatchback and £24,530 for the estate. Standard equipment for the entry level Leon SE includes 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, keyless entry and a pair of electrically operated and heated door mirrors. Inside, there’s an eight-inch infotainment system, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and a pair of USB ports.

The mid-range Leon SE Dynamic starts from £21,505. Upgrades over the entry-level model include a set of larger 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, privacy glass, a 10.25-inch digital instrument binnacle and a 10-inch infotainment screen with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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The Leon FR kicks off at £23,735. There’s a host of cosmetic and mechanical upgrades over the mid-range model, including an aggressive body kit, a twin-exit exhaust system, a 15mm lower suspension setup, illuminated tread plates and a set of unique LED tail lights with scrolling indicators.

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Inside, the SEAT Leon FR gets a pair of sports seats with contrasting stitching, a leather multifunction steering wheel, three-zone air conditioning, a wireless smartphone charger and a pair of extra USB ports for the rear seats. Buyers can also opt for a panoramic sunroof and either a fixed or electric tow bar on all models.

Xcellence and Xcellence Lux build cars build on the FR models with larger 18-inch alloy wheels, a wraparound interior ambient lighting system and a Winter Pack, which adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and heated windscreen washers. 

New 2020 SEAT Leon: engine and drivetrain

Like the recently launched Mk8 Volkswagen Golf, the latest Leon gets a refreshed engine line-up that features varying levels of electrification. From launch, five options will be available, with buyers offered three petrols, one diesel and a mild-hybrid powertrain.

The range opens with a 109bhp turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. Above that sits a pair of turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder units, with outputs of either 128bhp or 148bhp.

A 113bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel unit will be available from launch. A 148bhp version of the same engine will be made available later in Leon’s life-span, alongside a 187bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. In the Leon hatchback, the 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine is claimed to average 42.2mpg with a 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds and a 144mph top speed.

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The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, but the petrol engines can all be ordered with an automatic gearbox. Going auto also opens up the possibility of adding 48-volt mild-hybrid technology on the 1.0-litre and 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol variants.

For business buyers, the 1.4-litre plug-in hybrid model boasts a benefit in kind rating of just 10 per cent. Fuel economy of up to 235.4mpg is claimed, and up to 36 miles of pure electric running. 

New 2020 SEAT Leon: design and platform

The Mk3 Leon sold more than a million units during its reign – and it had a reputation as one of the more striking hatchbacks in the family car class. As such, SEAT’s design team hasn’t interfered too much with the car’s looks; the styling shift between the Mk3 and Mk4 model is evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

The latest Leon shares a similar side profile to its predecessor and features similar body lines down its flanks. It even shares the same platform as the previous model – the ubiquitous MQB architecture which underpins most of the bread-and-butter models in the Volkswagen Group.

However, the decision to stick with the previous model’s platform doesn’t mean there aren’t significant differences. The new car is almost 90mm longer than before, and 50mm of that increase has been inserted into the wheelbase in a bid to improve one of the Mk3’s biggest failings – rear cabin space.

The Leon’s bonnet looks longer than the old model’s, as its windscreen has been made more upright, while the car’s nose has a prouder profile. The hatchback’s rear incorporates SEAT’s now familiar full-width lighting set-up, with higher-end variants receiving “welcome” and “farewell” animations, which are displayed when the car is locked and unlocked.

New 2020 SEAT Leon: interior design

Inside, the dashboard is a lot cleaner and simpler than before, because the infotainment screen now sits on the front of the fascia instead of being accommodated within it. The car in our images has the top-spec 10-inch system, complete with the same sliding controllers for temperature and infotainment volume that you’ll find on the latest Volkswagen Golf.

SEAT’s engineers have also worked hard to make the Leon’s ambient lighting system more than a simple personalisation gimmick. The shades and hues will still be user-configurable, but the car will now also flash the interior lighting strip if there’s something which requires the driver’s urgent attention, such as a blind-spot warning or if the car’s rear cross traffic assist system sense oncoming traffic when reversing out of a parking space.

Based on our time with the Leon in the studio, SEAT looks set to deliver on one of the new car’s key targets – better cabin space. It’s noticeably easier than before to get into the rear seats, while leg- and knee-room are far more generous than in the Mk3 Leon. The boot is basically unchanged, at 380 litres, but there’s now 617 litres on offer if you choose the estate model. That bodystyle continues into the Mk4, but there’s no return for the three-door Leon SC, which was dropped from the third-generation car’s line-up almost 18 months ago.

What does the new SEAT Leon have to beat? These are the best hatchbacks on sale right now...

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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