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New SEAT Leon ups the design stakes. Image by SEAT.

New SEAT Leon ups the design stakes
Fourth-generation SEAT Leon to offer more engines and better connectivity.
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2020-07-08: First drive: SEAT Leon Mk4

What's the news?

With sales of the previous three generations notching up past 2.2 million units, the Leon is a keystone of the SEAT offering, despite the completion of its SUV family. Now there's a new generation of Leon that aims to offer higher levels of connectivity and more engines, including a plug-in hybrid. According to SEAT, this Leon is its first "completely connected" model, ensuring that you won't miss anything in your digital life.

What's changed with this latest version?

Previously there was a choice of three body styles with the Leon, but shifting market trends and bean counters mean that the attractive three-door hatch will no longer be available. The good news is that there is still an estate version and, like the five-door hatch, it also benefits from an increase of 50mm in wheelbase to improve passenger space in the rear.

Overall, the Leon hatch is now 86mm longer than before but narrower and lower by 16- and 3mm respectively. As for the estate, that's now 93mm longer than its predecessor, and is lower and narrower by the same amount as the hatch. Boot space in the hatch remains unchanged from its predecessor at 380 litres, with the Sports Tourer estate gaining 30 litres for an increase to 617 litres.

More detail in the design comes thanks to features such as new LED headlights that feature dynamic indicators, as well as 22 LEDs per module and which operate at 900 lumens to give out a high level of light. LED indicators also feature in the door mirrors and for models equipped with the full LED lighting option the word 'Hola!' is projected onto the ground through the puddle light on either side of the front doors. The Leon's distinctive design continues at the rear where a 'coast-to-coast' light bar spans the boot lid.

Has the inside changed?

All that talk of connectivity and digitalisation is reflected in the cabin of Leon. Items like a 10.25-inch digital instrument display will complement the standard eight-inch colour infotainment touchscreen system. A larger ten-inch display will offer gesture and voice recognition along with smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth, Android Auto and a wireless Apple CarPlay.

For models with the DSG automatic transmission, there is slightly more room in the cabin as this system now uses a shift-by-wire setup, doing away with the traditional gear selector in favour of a much smaller stubby toggle shifter.

In today's increasingly connected world, there is plenty of demand for the car to become an extension of that, so SEAT is offering several in-car and online services that it says will grow to a larger number over time. A built-in eSim maintains an online connection without having to rely on hot-spotting from your phone. Vital safety information can be sent to the emergency services through this in the event of an accident, and it can also connect the car to the cloud and continuously update useful items such as more accurate real-time traffic or parking options.

A SEAT Connect app for your smartphone will let owners check the usual items like whether the car is locked or where it's parked. For PHEV owners, the option to check on the charging status or remotely activate the climate control to defrost the car while you have your breakfast or turn up the air conditioning before getting back in after being parked in the sun for a few hours will be a simple but welcome convenience.

What engines will be available?

Buyers will have more choice than ever before concerning what powers this generation of SEAT Leon. There will be a range of turbocharged petrol engines starting with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit with an output of 110hp. This engine uses a Miller-cycle combustion process and a variable geometry turbocharger to maximise its performance efficiency.

A larger 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine delivers a power output of 150hp which should make for a sweet combination with the Leon. This engine also features Active Cylinder Management that can shut off the combustion in the cylinder when the engine is on part throttle.

Both of these engines are also available with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system (badged as eTSI) that further improves the efficiency and helps to reduce fuel consumption. It works only in conjunction with the dual-clutch automatic transmission. A 48-volt starter-generator and 48-volt lithium-ion battery recover energy when braking and can then deploy it by enabling the engine to shut off for short periods, for example, when cruising on a motorway.

For those keener on overall performance, a 2.0-litre petrol engine will offer 190hp and come paired exclusively with a dual-clutch automatic transmission. Unsurprisingly, diesel still has a home in the Leon range in the form of a 150hp 2.0-litre TDI with either six-speed manual or DSG automatic transmission. This latest derv unit employs the most up-to-date exhaust treatment to reduce NOx emissions through a twin-dosing SCR system with dual AdBlue injection.

SEAT will also introduce a plug-in hybrid version to the Leon range for the first time. It combines a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor that is powered by a 13kWh lithium-ion battery. With a single full charge, the Leon will be capable of travelling up to 37 miles using battery power alone and this powertrain will be available in both the five-door hatch and estate.

Pricing has yet to be announced for the SEAT Leon, but it is due to go on sale during the second quarter of 2020.

Dave Humphreys - 28 Jan 2020

2020 Seat Leon Mk4 Revealed. Image by SEAT.2020 Seat Leon Mk4 Revealed. Image by SEAT.2020 Seat Leon Mk4 Revealed. Image by SEAT.2020 Seat Leon Mk4 Revealed. Image by SEAT.2020 Seat Leon Mk4 Revealed. Image by SEAT.

2020 Seat Leon Mk4 Revealed. Image by SEAT.2020 Seat Leon Mk4 Revealed. Image by SEAT.2020 Seat Leon Mk4 Revealed. Image by SEAT.2020 Seat Leon Mk4 Revealed. Image by SEAT.2020 Seat Leon Mk4 Revealed. Image by SEAT.    - SEAT road tests
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