Grainy pictures may have emerged on the internet a couple of days ago but these are the first official images of the new SEAT Leon FR.
Due to arrive before the end of this year, the new Leon will be riding on the same MQB platform as the recently released Audi A3. It’s an all-new car, banishing the curvy shape of the current model in favour of sharper creases and more angles, and featuring a similar front profile to the face-lifted Ibiza. Look closely and you’ll also spot SEAT’s subtly revised logo.
The new Leon is bigger on the inside thanks to a 6cm increase in wheelbase but that doesn’t mean it is longer than before – no, the Leon is actually 5cm shorter. It is also lighter than before, another advantage of the new platform, and sheds roughly 90kg from each model. That should improve driving dynamics and help SEAT remain faithful to its position as the ‘sporty brand’ in the Volkswagen group.
SEAT can also claim a first for the Leon as it can be specified with all-LED headlighting. This is more than just daytime running lights, the main beam is constructed from a series of LEDs. It’s a technology that has been tried and tested at Le Mans by the all-conquering Audis and is slowly starting to make its way into road cars.
Leon’s New Engines
|Petrol||1.2 TSI||86 PS||Diesel||1.6 TDI||90 PS|
|1.2 TSI||105 PS||1.6 TDI||105 PS|
|1.4 TSI||122 PS||2.0 TDI||140 PS|
|1.8 TSI||180 PS||2.0 TDI||184 PS|
The Leon will receive a complete new range of engines, starting off with a pair of 1.2 TSIs and a 1.4 TSI, and a 1.6 TDI. The performance choices are the petrol-powered 1.8-litre TSI with 180 PS or the even gutsier diesel-burning 184 PS 2.0-litre, an engine that also delivers 380 Nm of torque.
For those of you who value mpg over bhp there is an Ecomotive model available at launch. Equipped with the 1.6 TDI and start/stop technology it is rated at an average of 74.3mpg with a CO2 figure of just 99 g/km. That means the road tax is completely free. Result.
Later on there will be a 140 PS version of the 1.4 TSI that will use the same Active Cylinder Technology as recently seen on on the Volkswagen Polo BlueGT, which shuts down two of its four cylinders when running on a light throttle.
Transmission choices will vary depending on the engine but will be either a five- or six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG.
Different Chassis Setups
It’s interesting to note SEAT’s approach to the Leon’s chassis setup. The front sticks with MacPherson struts but it’s at the rear that there are differences. Any Leon with performance of up to 150PS uses torsion beam suspension, anything above that benefits from a multi-link setup for improved handling. Is this a clever way of making the sportier Leons feel even more sporty, or a way of cutting costs on the lower-rung models? You decide.
With no announcement yet of a Cupra-badged Leon the FR will have to take on the mantle of performance model and as such receives SEAT’s new Drive Profile system. You can choose from one of Eco, Normal or Sport modes to vary the setup of the power steering, throttle and engine sound (the FR uses a sound actuator). Nothing new in that, you might think, but the Leon will allow you to tailor each mode to your own preference. Even the ambient LED lighting changes with the mode, switching from white to red when Sport is engaged.
As you’d expect the quality of the cabin steps up a notch, with a new design and improved materials with an abundance of chrome highlighting. The restructured dashboard features a new 5-inch touchscreen display to control the multimedia system and there’s all sorts of connectivity available, including Bluetooth, USB, SD card and an aux-in socket, as well as a CD player for those still lagging behind the digital times.
Specify the Media Centre Plus system and the touchscreen is increased to 5.8 inches, iPod connectivity is included and the speaker count increases to ten. Tick the box for the optional sat-nav and you’re also treated to a trip computer with a high-res colour screen,
You may have noticed one detail that has been dropped from the current Leon – the hidden rear door handles. With talk of ‘further variants’ and a ‘fully-fledged family’ does this mean that we may see a three-door coupe-esque Leon in the future? Possibly wearing a Cupra badge and running an even more powerful 2.0-TSI engine? We’ll have to wait and see.
Prices and performance figures for the 2013 Leon are yet to be announced but expect to hear more in the run up to the Paris Motor Show in September.