It must be said that the current Seat Leon is getting on a bit nowadays. Sure, it looks rather svelte for a family hatch and theres no denying the cars appealing blend of VW reliability at comparatively knock-down prices, but its been in production since 2005, so the latest entrants into the market are making it look a bit outdated.
But dont worry too much, as theres a new Leon in the pipelines, and weve just caught word of the upcoming cars new features and gizmos.
Whereas some elements of the VW Group release cars that look remarkably similar to the ones that preceded them (*cough* Audi *cough*), its quite easy to see the differences between the current and upcoming Leons. Gone are the curves and rounded edges that characterised the Mk 2 car, with sharp creases and angular, geometric shapes replacing them on the Mk 3.
Strangely perhaps, Seat want you to focus in more on the smaller, intricate details instead of the car as a whole (which is odd, given we reckon the new car looks rather smart). Not only does the latest Leon feature the new and very subtle re-styled logo, but the front headlights are also worthy of a mention, as theyre the first 100% LED front lamps for a car in this class.
If you parked the new and the current Leon next to each other, youd notice that next years car is a wee bit smaller than the one youll find in your local Seat dealership forecourt the new Leon is about 50mm or so shorter than the car it replaces.
However, its worth pointing out that its marginally taller and wider, and the longer wheelbase means theres more space for folk inside. Which brings us very neatly onto the
The main criticism that most of the testers had with the current Leon was that the interior was a bit bland it was a tad surprising to find that the land which gave us the spectacles of flamenco dancing, Pablo Picasso and the inspiration for various Lamborghini names managed to fabricate a relatively dull looking dash design! Thankfully, it seems the honchos at Seat have rectified this problem, with the pics showcasing a very high-quality interior with several little Hispanic styling cues here and there.
Its also been confirmed that the quality of the plastics isnt the only major change to the Leons cabin Seat state that higher-spec models, and especially the performance oriented versions, will get a greater smattering of leather and Alcantara, in order to spruce the interior up a bit.
The most noticeable change to the new car, though (bar the perceived improvement in build quality and the slight increase with regards to interior space) is the inclusion of what Seat calls a built-in Media System across the range. Though the array of options and gadgets it controls vary on which trim level its specified with, even owners of the most basic examples can use the 5 inch touch screen to operate the hifi and communication functions. This progresses up to include gadgets such as Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition and even a 3D display for the top-of-the-line models.
Under the skin
Most car makers are expressing the need to slash the weight from the previous model, whether or not its a tiny city car or a high-performance supercar, and the new Seat Leon is no exception. Thanks to the very clever and hi-tech MQB platform which debuted on the new Audi A3, Seat claims that the new car weighs, on average, 85kg or so less than the equivalent previous-gen model.
This weight saving has played a part in improving the new Leons fuel consumption figures. Of most interest to the running cost conscious buyer will be the 1.6 Ecomotive diesel, which returns a claimed 73 mpg and costs nothing to tax thanks to its sub-100g emissions.
Speaking of drivetrains, Seat also says that therell be a wider range of engines and transmissions on offer for this new Leon. Though it hasnt been stated at this early stage which ones will be available from launch, therell be a total of 9 different engines available five petrols and four diesels with varying power outputs. Theres also, depending on which engine you go for, a choice of either a five or six-speed manual, or a six or seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.
The new Seat Leon is set to be go on sale some point in 2013 (no official dates have been stated so far), and its expected that the prices us Brits will have to pay for it will be announced next year as well. However, its being suggested that the RRPs wont budge much from what they are for the current Leon.
If youre interested in the new Leon, but arent too keen on it being a five-door hatch, dont worry too much, as therell also be a three-door and estate model in the range by September 2013.
We may be going off first impressions here, but wed be lying if we said that we werent intrigued by this new Seat Leon. At this early stage of analysis, it seems to possess all the hallmarks that made the current car a good buy smart yet svelte styling, affordable pricing, tried-and-tested VW technology and improves upon it by making it a more pleasant place to be in and, if the 1.6 Ecomotive is anything to go by, superb running costs.
We will have to wait a fairly long while before we find out if our assumptions are correct or not, given it wont go on sale until next year, but we wouldnt discount it from being a well sorted car. Yes, the mid-sized family hatch market is an incredibly tough one to succeed in, and the smaller Ibiza
has been wiping the floor with the current car in recent years in terms of sales figures, but the new Leon does have the on-paper stats to pose a formidable threat to at least some of its main rivals, and were looking forward to the inevitable group test reviews in the coming months.
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