Khodrocar - SEAT is hoping to capitalise on the success of its Ateca SUV by revealing a new generation of Leon hatchback within the next 18 months, Auto Express can reveal.
Due in showrooms in the first half of 2019, the new Leon is part of a major product offensive from SEAT – the most intensive rollout of new or heavily revised models in the Spanish company’s history.
Dr Matthias Rabe, the firm’s board member with responsibility for research and development, told Auto Express: "It’s our biggest push ever. We’ve had Ateca, now Arona, the renewal of Ibiza, the facelifted Leon. But it’s only now that we really accelerate; over the next three years we’ll see six or seven new models, and most of them will be totally new.”
The next generation of Leon will continue to be based on the VW Group’s MQB platform technology – the same chassis parts that underpin the current car as well as the Skoda Octavia and VW Golf. However, we can expect SEAT to stretch the Leon’s wheelbase by a few millimetres in a bid to boost rear cabin space.
The engine line-up will look familiar, too, with 1.0 and 1.5-litre petrols, and a 1.6-litre diesel. It is also likely to get at least some of the electronics architecture from the forthcoming Mk8 Golf – allowing the potential for a 48V-based mild hybrid, although this may arrive later in the car’s life. It’s likely to get a plug-in hybrid variant from launch, however – in effect, using the same tech as the Golf GTE.
The overall profile of the third generation of Leon will remain similar – although as previewed by our exclusive images, it’s likely to get a revised front-end appearance. "The styling of the car is not a revolution but it’s a big evolution,” said Rabe. "You will be able to see that it is a Leon; you won’t be able to mistake it for any car in the segment. But that is what we’ve been working on, across our range; now we have a clear, consistent product design identity.”
SEAT EVs on the way
SEAT’s other big launches over the next few years will be two electric vehicles. The first of these, expected in 2019, is likely to be a production version of the e-Mii, which is being trialled in a small fleet in Barcelona. A year later, the second, larger model will arrive, based on the same MEB chassis as the VW I.D. hatchback.
Both Rabe and head of design Alejandro Mesonero have admitted that the vehicle has been signed off. Mesonero directly compared it with the Leon – a further hint that the two cars have a similar bodystyle.
"The process for the MEB car was actually quite quick,” Mesonero said. "It is clear to see it is a SEAT. I’ve been enjoying looking at the MEB car sitting beside the next Leon in the studio, in fact. The EV sits a bit taller, because of the battery location [in the floor], and it’s different from it because of the packaging.”
SEAT also has ambitious plans for its Cupra brand – starting with a hot Ateca SUV due next spring. And as Auto Express revealed back in August, the firm is considering badging its high-performance models as Cupras in their own right. Rabe declined to comment on this speculation, but he said: "It’s clear that Cupra is not just limited to Leon. There are lots of people in our organisation supporting it.”