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Hot cross fun! 296bhp SEAT Leon Cross Sport debuts in Frankfurt

SEAT's Frankfurt Motor Show concept is a jacked-up, all-wheel drive performance Leon and here it is...

Not content with offering the newly beefed-up Leon Cupra 290 hot hatch and the rugged Leon X-Perience estate, SEAT has merged the two ideas with the all-purpose Leon Cross Sport at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Spanish firm calls its creation a ‘performance athlete in high-tech trekking shoes’, and says the car is designed to blur the line between all-terrain capability and mega-hatch performance. The powertrain and platform are lifted from the all-conquering VW Golf R, meaning the Leon Sport Cross gets 296bhp and 380Nm of torque channelled through a fifth-generation Haldex four-wheel drive system and a six-speed DSG gearbox.

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• Best crossovers to buy now

It’s capable of 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds, exactly the same time as the Golf and a second faster than the standard Cupra 265. It also gets the same electronic differential so it can handle the extra power. But unlike VW’s offering, which you’d be scared to drive up a kerb in, the Cross Sport gets 41mm of extra ground clearance to ensure it can tackle rougher ground than any hot hatch rival.

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You’d have to be more cautious though - the Cross Sport doesn’t get the same rough-and-tough skid plates and plastic body cladding as the Leon X-Perience. Instead it favours a bold two-tone paint scheme with brown extended wheelarches, and racy two-tone 19-inch alloys. A butch silver rear bumper, quad exhausts and neat roof rails complete the transformation.  The rest of the exterior is identical to the three-door Cupra, with the same rear spoiler and large front air intake.

 The interior features the same Ultra Orange colour scheme that’s said to be ‘inspired by the Barcelona sun’. It’s all over the leather seats, door panels and steering wheel. 

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According to Juergen Stackmann, SEAT’s chairman, there’s a real desire to put the Cross Sport into production, but the reveal at the Frankfurt Motor Show is intended to gauge enthusiasm for such a car.

If the car goes into production, he said, it will make most sense as a five-door hatchback, rather than the three-door shown in Frankfurt. He said SEAT top brass is hopeful a production version will have the rugged capabilities its looks suggest, indicating four-wheel drive will be offered. But he wouldn’t rule out a two-wheel drive Cross Sport featuring the kind of beefed-up cosmetic enhancements seen here.

No decisions have been made on engine choice. There is an outside chance a production version could feature the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as the Leon Cupra, but smaller engines are also viable.

Do you like the idea of a high performance crossover? let us know in the comments section below...

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