Overview: Seat Leon

Seat’s new C-category car is a completely new design, with a longer wheelbase (up by just under 6cm) and shorter overall length (by around 5cm) than its predecessor. The stretched wheelbase allows for better passenger accommodation, and Seat is boasting about improved cabin materials — traditionally something of a weakness with Seats. The luggage compartment has a volume of 380 litres, around 40l more than the outgoing model. This compares with 585l for the Škoda Octavia with its longer platform and 350l for the Golf.

With the burgeoning array and falling prices of driver assistance and ‘infotainment’ systems available off-the-shelf from companies such as Bosch and Hella, it is not surprising that Seat is promising a good many on the new Leon. The new car will début towards the end of this year as a five-door, with additional variants due to be added later.

Seat Leon: 2013 model (top) and 2009 model (above).

The new Leon uses a new architecture with the front axle 40mm further forward than previously, contributing to the longer wheelbase and a better-balanced distribution of axle load. Thanks to advances in construction techniques and the use of lightweight materials, the overall mass has been reduced by 90kg compared with the previous version.

All of the engines used to drive the new Leon are turbocharged and directly fuelled. Swept volumes range from 1.2- to two litres. Compared with their respective predecessors, their fuel consumption is down by ‘up to 22 per cent.’

The 1.6 TDI generates 105PS and 250Nm. In the Ecomotive version with start/stop system and brake energy recuperation, it returns 74.3mpg over the NEDC roling road test routine; this equates to 99g/km CO2. The extensively re-engineered two-litre TDI returns 70.6mpg in the Ecomotive version; headline outputs for this unit are 150PS and 320Nm.

Seat will rapidly expand the engine line-up. Early 2013 will see the arrival of the 1.2 TSI in two versions with 86PS and 105PS; a 1.4 TSI with 122PS; and at the top of the petrol range, a 1.8 TSI with 180PS. This engine uses a combination of direct and manifold injection. The diesel line-up will be augmented by a 1.6 TDI with 90PS and a range-topping 2.0 TDI with 184PS and 380Nm.

Depending on the engine, transmission options range from five- and six-speed manual gearboxes to the now-familiar renowned six- and seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearboxes — the wet-plate six-speed unit being used with torque outputs beyond 250Nm.

The chassis of the new Leon, if it is anything like its forebears, will be more than up to the job. On paper it’s very conventional, with McPherson struts at the front mounted on a sub-frame, together with a torsion beam arrangement at the rear — at least, for engines up to 150PS. More powerful variants use a multi-link set-up at the back to deal with longitudinal and transverse loads independently.

For the Leon FR, Seat has introduced drive modes, a principle familiar from other cars in which the driver can adjust damper settings and other vehicle parameters. Seat calls its system Drive Profiles. In the Leon, it allows the driver to vary the characteristics of the power steering, throttle control and (yes) engine sound between three modes: Eco, Comfort and Sport. There is also a facility to tailor the settings according to the driver’s preference. The interior ambient LED lighting changes according to the selected setting: white in Eco and Comfort modes, and red in Sport.

The basis of the new car’s infotainment systems is provided by the Easy Connect operating system, which controls the sound system entertainment and communication functions, as well as a wide array of vehicle functions, via a touch-sensitive screen in the cockpit. The entry level is the Media System Touch, which includes a CD radio with an SD card slot, four speakers and a five-inch touch screen. More upmarket models come with the Media System Colour, featuring more in-screen colours and higher sound quality, with a CD drive and six or eight speakers as standard, depending on the model. It connects to external devices via Bluetooth, USB or aux-in. Its 13cm colour touch screen also controls vehicle functions.

The Media System Plus has a 16cm touch screen with three-dimensional graphics in high definition, iPod connectivity, an optional DAB tuner, and voice recognition. The system comes with eight speakers. This system incorporates the navigation system, which also shows navigation information in the colour display between the speedometer and rev counter and can be controlled by voice recognition.

Driver assistance systems include drowsiness detection, which recognises when the driver is losing concentration and ‘suggests’ taking a break. Additionally, a camera mounted behind the rear-view mirror manages both the Full Beam Assistant, which switches automatically between full and dipped beam, and the Heading Control lane-keeping assistant, which sends torque to the steering column by way of the electro-mechanical power steering motor to help prevent the driver from inadvertently crossing over lane markings.

We will publish full detailed specifications when they become available.

Text and design copyright © Under the Skin 2010-2012. We recommend Firefox or Safari.