SEAT Leon (2020): details and specs revealed

  • Fourth-generation SEAT Leon revealed
  • Sharper styling, full range of engines and trims
  • New safety and driver-assistance tech debuts
  • Pre-order now with deliveries later in 2020

The SEAT Leon enters its fourth generation with the reveal of the 2020 version in both Hatchback and Sportstourer forms. The new car takes over from SEAT's most successful model in the UK with more than 250,000 sold – so, it's no surprise that this is a very familiar-looking family car.

The main story to take away here is that the looks are very evolutionary, with elements of the recently-launched Tarraco SUV combined with a subtle update of the existing – and very sleek – five-door Leon design. So, you get a sharp new front and rear end, full-width LED rear lights, and snazzy new 'Leon' badging on the tailgate. 

Although the looks are predictable, the tech under the skin has been updated in-line with the rest of its Volkswagen Group sister cars, the Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia. As well as these two, the Leon is likely to end up on the same shopping lists as the Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla, Peugeot 308 and Renault Megane, as well as the countless small SUVs that buyers are increasingly turning to.

More practicality, more space

SEAT Leon Sportstourer (2020) at the launch, side view

Both the new Leon Hatchback and Sportstourer (above) have a longer wheelbase (the space between the front and rear axle lines), which SEAT says gives the rear-seat passengers 5cm more kneeroom. Headroom is up in the front (by 3mm) and down in the rear (by 1mm) for the hatchback; and it's up in the front (by 1mm) and rear (by 5mm) in the Sportstourer.

Boot space remains unchanged in the Hatchback (at 380 litres) and is up from 587 to 617 litres in the Sportstourer.

The biggest change – unsurprisingly – is to the dashboard, which gets a much sleeker look, fewer individual buttons and more controls via the on-trend prominently-mounted central touchscreen. For those who like a decluttered look, this is a great move – not so much for people who struggle with touchscreens.

Uprated tech brings it up to date

SEAT Leon Estate (2020) interior view

Dominating the dashboard is SEAT's Digital Cockpit, which combines a 10.25-inch instrument cluster with the aforementioned 8.25 or 10-inch (depending on spec) central touchscreen. As you'd expect, it's a fully-equipped infotainment system, with connected sat-nav, voice control and gesture recognition – and there is a suite of SEAT's own connected services as well as that all-important smartphone link-up via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

SEAT says that its updated voice recognition responds naturally and means you can converse with it in a more 'human' way. Tell the Leon that you're cold, and it will raise the temperature, for instance.

The other significant tech feature is the embedded SIM, which keeps the car online whether it's connected to your phone or not. As well as keeping the inbuilt sat-nav maps up-to-date with traffic information, but the car's inbuilt eCall service will contact the emergency services for you in the event of an incident.

Up-to the minute safety systems

As you'd expect from a new model in the family car sector, it's bristling with standard and optional safety systems. There's a predictive adaptive cruise control system, which uses mobile and satellite traffic data along with traffic-sign recognition to automatically set the car's speed depending on the conditions ahead.

The advantage to the driver is that the car will assist in the steering and will potentially anticipate dangerous situations up ahead. It's not a 'hands-free' system, though, and like all of these systems, there will be warnings from the car if the driver takes their hands off the steering wheel for more than 15 seconds.

Benefiting night-time driving, the Leon also now comes with full LED headlights, which are brighter and work better on dipped and main beam. Top models come with fully automatic and adaptive lighting. This is in addition to the usual suite of systems that includes Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) as part of SEAT's advanced driver assistance system (ADAS).

A familiar line-up of models

SEAT Leon (2020) front view, in studio

The model line-up again has a familiar feel. You get SE, SE Dynamic, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux. They're well-equipped with even the entry-level SE throwing in keyless starting, electronic parking brake, full infotainment set-up, leather steering wheel and SEAT's connected features.

The FRs are the sporting models, so you get bigger 18-inch wheels and sportier suspension, while the FR Sport model adds a winter pack that includes heated sports seats, and heated washer jets.

The Xcellcence models top the range, and get the ADAS as standard, a more luxurious mood lighting set-up, and the full set of safety features as standard. The full line-up and exact pricing is yet to be confirmed, so stay tuned – and expect the more sporting Cupra models to appear shortly.

Engine options: petrol, diesel, hybrid and plug-in hybrid

In terms of engines, there are the options of petrol (TSI), diesel (TDI), mild hybrid (eTSI), and plug-in hybrid (eHybrid) versions, and manual and automatic versions are available. Petrols range between 110 and 190hp, diesels come in 130 and 150hp varieties, and will be very familiar to anyone familiar with the wider Volkswagen Group range – they are all economical and refined compared with rivals.

Of more interest is the eTSI mild hybrid system, which is available with either the 1.0- or 1.5-litre petrol engines. There's a 48-volt starter-generator, which allows the car to coast at certain speeds, shutting off the petrol engine completely – the net result is better fuel economy and lower emissions. There's also a modest electrical boost from the hybrid system under acceleration, too.

The eHybrid plug-in hybrid version takes the concept further combining a 13kWh battery pack and electric motor with a 1.4-litre petrol engine. Maximum power is 204hp, and its electric-only range is 38 miles (considerably up from most PHEVs, which seem to take you 20-or-so miles max). You can plug it in to a standard electric car chargepoint, and SEAT says it will fully charge from empty in around 3.5 hours on a typical domestic charger.

When can you buy one?

You can pre-order a Leon now via SEAT's own dedicated website for the new model, although prices haven't been confirmed yet. Delivery times for the UK have yet to be confirmed either, but expect them to kick off in the summer.

What this means for you

You know the drill. If you like the old model, you can now go into your SEAT dealer and start talking about the new one – in order to try and grab a discount on the outgoing model. It's a classic bargaining tool, and given the outgoing model is still very capable and also generously equipped, you won't be selling yourself short going with this one.

However, the new model is a step-change in its under-the-bonnet and driver-assistance technology. The new hybrid and plug-in models add massive appeal – and if the popularity of the old Golf GTE is anything to go by, there may well end up being a long queue for the latter. For those looking for a family car bristling with the latest tech, and with great looks to match, the SEAT Leon will definitely be worth waiting for.

SEAT Leon Hatchback (2020) at the launch, rear view

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