Plug-in hybrid hot hatch will crown Mk5 Leon, on sale in Seat and Cupra guises in 2020
3 January 2020

Seat will launch a bold new Leon in 2020 – which will include a hot 241bhp plug-in hybrid from sub-brand Cupra.

As well as a redesign inside and out, the fifth-generation Leon will take its platform, powertrains and technology influence from the recently revealed Volkswagen Golf Mk8.

The Cupra Leon hot hatchback and estate will initially be available solely as a plug-in hybrid.

The new Leon is expected to be revealed at the 2020 Geneva motor show in March before going on sale very soon after. The model will take an evolutionary approach to its exterior design and retain a shape that’s familiar to owners of the outgoing Leon.

Seat sold around 137,000 examples of the current Leon in its 2014 launch year and sales have been at or above that level every year since. For this reason, company bosses won’t dramatically alter the formula.

However, inspiration will be taken from the brand’s newer models and the front end will be heavily influenced by that of the Tarraco SUV. The Cupra variant, meanwhile, will adopt bold exterior details first previewed by the Formentor SUV, which will go on sale towards the end of 2020 not long after the Cupra Leon, due in the autumn. No three-door Leon will be offered this time.

A minimalist, tech-heavy approach is expected for the new Leon’s cabin, similar to that of the latest Golf and recently revealed new Octavia. The number of buttons will be reduced in favour of a new infotainment system that incorporates advanced voice and gesture control. Material quality should receive a welcome boost, too.

All Leon variants are once again set to share their platform with that of the 2020 Golf and Octavia. That means it will use a version of the tried-and-tested MQB architecture, evolved to be structurally stiffer and allow better packaging. Historically, the Leon has been set up to be the sportier-feeling of the Volkswagen Group trio, with stiffer spring and damper rates, and that’s due to continue with the new model.

Our Verdict

Cupra Ateca 2019 road test review - hero front

The first model from Seat's standalone performance brand is an unconventional launchpad with some pace and precision, but lacks the hallmarks of a great driver’s car

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The standard, Seat-badged Leon’s engine range will be familiar. Base versions will use the 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder turbo petrol in varying states of tune, with the new 1.5-litre TSI Evo petrol powertrain drafted in for higher-spec cars. That will be offered as a mild hybrid in higherspec variants, with the 48V system claimed to reduce fuel consumption by around 10%.

The sole UK-bound diesel engine in the latest Golf, for the time being, is a 2.0-litre TDI putting out 114bhp or 148bhp, with the latter due to be mated to a mild-hybrid system by the time the Leon is launched. Those powertrains should transfer to the new Seat, alongside the option of manual and automatic gearboxes.

Seat has confirmed it will offer a range-topping plug-in hybrid Leon. It’s expected to use a 1.4-litre TSI petrol and an electric motor for 201bhp – the same as the non-GTE plug-in hybrid version of the latest Golf.

The Cupra Leon, which will be sold under the new brand banner with no Seat badging, will put out 241bhp from a more highly tuned version of the same petrol-electic unit. Expect a 0-62mph time of around 6.5sec, with a 13kWh battery allowing for an all-electric range of up to 35 miles. It will also dramatically lower the car’s CO2 output, a crucial factor to ensure Seat and Cupra meet the upcoming fleet average targets.

It is likely that the Cupra R will return as a range flagship. Although unconfirmed, reports suggest it will retain all-wheel drive and share a 300bhp-plus 2.0-litre petrol powertrain with the upcoming Golf R, rather than keep the lesser Cupra’s plug-in hybrid system. Expect it to complete the 0-62mph sprint in under five seconds.

However, such a model may be offered in limited numbers only as electrification remains the overriding priority for both brands. Design boss Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos told Autocar at a recent Cupra event that Seat plans to start production of its last internal combustion-engined model in 2026. That’s likely to mean the firm will go electric only by 2032 at the latest.

Also due in 2020

The Leon isn’t the only new Seat and Cupra model due in showrooms next year.


Mii Electric: This version of the practical city car will reach dealerships in February and become Seat’s first fully electric model.

Ateca facelift: The Nissan Qashqai rival revitalised the brand’s fortunes and will receive a mid-life makeover in mid-2020.

El-Born: Due at the end of 2020, the MEB-based electric hatch is Seat’s equivalent of the Volkswagen ID 3.


Cupra Formentor: Cupra’s first stand-alone model is an SUV coupé featuring a 242bhp plugin hybrid powertrain and is due late in the year.


New Seat El-Born: 2020 electric hatchback begins testing

Seat could rebrand as Cupra in upmarket push

Small Seat EV to spawn Cupra model

Join the debate


3 January 2020

A glimpse into the future of what McDonalds car parks will look like on a Friday night in 2028.

3 January 2020

It doesn't matter how good the cars are my experience of Seat dealers put me right off. There may be good ones but the two i tried had no interest in my questions about a petrol Ateca,didn't offer a test drive or try to find one and couldn't give a delivery date. . My local Skoda dealer was much more helpful, sources the car I wanted to test drive and put a good dealer together. 

3 January 2020
It's the Mk4 not Mk5

5 January 2020

So there'll be a Seat Leon, and a Cupra Leon. There's going to be a stand alone Cupra model, the Formentor, but we're told that Seat will also do a version of this model. It all seems a bit over complicated.

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