Tim Barnes-Clay grabs a sneaky preview of the upcoming SEAT Leon, and it’s looking very good…
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I can recall seeing my first SEAT Leon in 1999. My neighbour had one, and it was the best-looking set-of-wheels I’d seen in a while. Sure, I was under no illusion it was really a Volkswagen Golf in a Spanish outfit. But I didn’t give a toss, because it looked cooler than the more conservative VW.
It wasn’t just the bloke next door who thought the Leon was decent – it turned out loads of other people did, too. You see, more than 500,000 first-generation models flew out of showrooms.
Things went so swimmingly for SEAT that a second-generation Leon was on our roads by 2005. Altogether, not far off 700,000 of these Leons were snapped up.
Skip through time to 2012 and the Mk3 Leon came along. It was the Spanish automaker’s most advanced motor, offering tech like Fatigue Detection, Lane Control Assist and full LED headlights.
By July last year, the Leon broke the one million sales barrier, leaving any cynics with egg on their faces. The figures spoke for themselves – this was SEAT’s most profitable car ever.
Mass eye candy
But the story doesn’t stop there, because the 2020 SEAT Leon has just been unwrapped in Barcelona. I was flown to Spain to see how the new car builds on the appeal of the retiring model.
As you can see from the pictures, there’s now a three-dimensional link between the grille and the lights. In addition, the LED lights are sunken, giving the SEAT a more profound expression while making it instantaneously recognisable.
The design carries on at the back of the car, with a coast-to-coast LED light making it shine bright at night. Then there’s the rear spoiler that expresses speed, even when the Leon is stationary.
Basically, the Mk4 Leon is eye-candy for the masses.
But it isn’t just the outside that makes an impression; climb inside, and the SEAT’s cabin is a minimalistic, functional one. As soon as you get comfortable behind the wheel, the elegance of the interior hits you.
Indeed, a lot of ergonomically driven thinking has gone into the Leon’s design. Compare the last model to this one, and everything now seems tidier. The quantity of buttons is kept to a bare minimum, with the car’s infotainment screen taking the limelight instead.
Look further, and a balance of soft plastics, textiles and leathers cover the car’s dashboard, door panels, and seats.
And on the practical side, the five-door SEAT has a boot capacity of 380 litres. This is the same as the leaving model. However, the new Leon Sports Tourer (that’s an estate, to you and me) provides 617 litres of cargo capacity – which is 30 litres more load space than the last estate model had.
Whether you go for the timeless Leon Hatchback or the resourceful Sports Tourer, the technology will “wow” you. There is a wealth of standard kit, so no matter which of the six trim levels you select – SE, SE Dynamic, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence or Xcellence Lux – the essentials, and then some, are taken care of.
All grades of Leon in the new decade’s line-up, come with LED headlight technology, electric and heated side mirrors, a leather steering wheel and gear stick, an eight-inch infotainment system, and keyless start.
I can’t wait to take the all-new Leon out for a spin – the Mk4 is due for its media launch in March, so keep an eye out for a full review of the model soon.