New SEAT Leon revealed

First official pictures and details of new SEAT Leon ahead of its Paris Motor Show unveil

This is the all-new SEAT Leon, and it’s aimed at those who prefer their Golf-sized hatchbacks with a little extra style.

It’s the second car to use the VW Group’s advanced, lightweight new MQB platform (following the Audi A3), and the Leon gets new engines, a lower kerbweight than before and a radical new look inside and out. SEAT gave us the chance to check it out in person at a photoshoot in Barcelona.

The first thing you notice is 
that the five-door model swaps the hidden rear handles from its predecessor for standard door pulls. That’s because the third-generation Leon will also be sold as a three-door and an estate.

The trio will be launched one at a time, with the five-door appearing at the Paris Motor Show in September, the three-door in Geneva next March and the estate, likely to be called the Leon ST, later in 2013.

The new Leon is shorter, lower, wider and has a longer wheelbase than the car it replaces. This gives it a more aggressive stance and increases cabin space. It weighs less, too: it should be around 80kg lighter than its predecessor.

The body is sharp and taut, and inspired by SEAT’s IBE concept. Dominating the profile are two horizontal lines, while a crease down the middle of the bonnet and flat-edged wheelarches 
create a crisp, modern look.

SEAT insists the five-door is the least striking version of the new Leon – insiders say the three-door’s styling is as sporty as a 
VW Scirocco. But the racy FR we photographed looked great with its 18-inch wheels, electric sunroof and optional LED lights. The interior gets a soft-touch dash and a centre console that’s angled towards the driver.

The car in our pictures had a 148bhp 2.0 TDI diesel, but eight engines will be offered when the Leon goes on sale in early 2013. That includes a flagship 181bhp 2.0 TDI, as well as a 1.6-litre TDI with either 89bhp or 104bhp.

Turbo petrol options include a 1.2 TSI with 85bhp or 104bhp, a 120bhp 1.4 TSI and a 178bhp 1.8 TSI. A 138bhp 1.4 TSI with cylinder deactivation will also go on sale at a later date.

Prices for the Leon will be confirmed closer to the Paris show, but are likely 
to start at around £15,000 – about £2,000 less than VW’s 
next Golf is expected to cost.

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