Seat's fourth-gen Ford Focus rival will be shown in concept form at the Geneva show next year prior to a summer release
17 October 2018

Seat is set to reveal the new Leon in concept form next year, but spy photographers have caught a revealing prototype testing with much less disguise than before. 

The fourth-generation of the Spanish brand's Ford Focus rival will be shown at next March's Geneva motor show before the production car arrives in the summer. Seat insiders have called the new car the biggest step forward in the model's history, with a significant improvement in cabin technology and the introduction of a variant with an electrified powertrain. 

Despite claims of a radical new design direction beginning with the Mk4 Leon, the test mule shows an evolutionary look. Seat is gradually moving away from straight edges and sharp angles for future models, and this mule's curvier front-end demonstrates that. The rear-end shape is familiar, however. 

The C-segment car will get a more advanced infotainment system - which can update maps, apps and functionality over the air - before any of its Volkswagen Group stable-mates. Seat gets the tech first to appeal to its customer base, which is the youngest of all the group's brands.

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Seat Leon 5dr hatch

Seat's third-generation Leon is attractive and capable, but it can't quite reach the benchmark set by the imperious Volkswagen Golf

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Seat research and development boss Matthias Rabe told Autocar at the Mobile World Congress tech show in Barcelona earlier this year that the system is "fantastic technology" with a "fantastic user interface".

Seat CEO Luca de Meo said: “For two years, we have been working on what will be the best infotainment system coming to market next year, starting with the Leon."

The user interface was highly praised in customer clinics, even above that of the Tesla Model X, Rabe said.

Seat is so confident about the usability of the tech that it will migrate many of the existing dash buttons over to the screen, including the heating controls. “It will have fewer buttons, more voice control and be much more coherent than today,” Rabe said. The Leon will also be available with the option of a second screen in place of the instrument dials.

Along with the new cabin tech, the fourth-generation Leon will also be available with Seat's first plug-in hybrid powertrain to offer improved fuel economy as well as limited zero-emissions running. The plug-in Leon is billed as the model to kick-start Seat’s electrification ambitions, which will gain pace when a standalone EV is launched in 2020.

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To signify its big stride forward, the upcoming Leon’s look has been described by brand design boss Alejandro Mesonero as taking “a bigger step” than the company has taken since the relaunch of the brand with the current Leon in 2012. “Sometimes you need to take a bigger step so as not to be obsolete. We’re ready very soon for the next, bolder step in design,” he said.

Rabe has previously told Autocar that the design and packaging of the five-door car will “not be a typical hatch" and that “it will create some desire”. 

The next Leon will use the VW Group’s MQB platform, shared with the Mk8 Golf, which is also due out in 2019.

The Leon will come in five-door hatch, estate and crossover forms. The latter, jacked-up version will sit below the Ateca SUV in the brand's range and be "more extreme" than the Allroad version of the Leon estate, according to Rabe. He added: “We talk about hatch and we talk about SUV. Why not make something in-between?” 

Seat won’t drop diesels from the line-up, Rabe said, but the range will include one of the first mild-hybrid petrol options within the VW Group for those wanting levels of economy similar to those offered by oilburning engines. This is likely to use the 48V system mated to a 1.5-litre TSI engine, as used for this Golf prototype.

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31

28 February 2018

"Highly praised in customer clinics", so I'm guessing the testing was done in a stationary vehicle, not whilst driving. As more and more touch screens take over, they'll demand more and more of our attention than more tactile interfaces (switches and knobs you can actually locate by touch).

Wonder when there'll be legislation outlawing there use - after all, the law says you can't touch your phone whilst driving so why should an in-car screen be any different?

Yes, i know there's voice control but it's only so good. Google requires a good internet connection for example and I know Vodafone are planning 4G on the moon but there are still areas in the UK that are free from coverage

25 May 2018

 What with touch screens becoming the norm your passenger will be if you like a Co Pilot!

Peter Cavellini.

28 February 2018

Let's hope it gets a satnav screen which works properly unlike the current one.

28 February 2018

One of the reasons I chose the excellent 8" infotainment over the 9.2" on my Skoda is because th 9.2" has no buttons. The system on our previous Honda was touch screen only - heavens help road safety if all cars are heading that way. What's the point of loading our cars with so many safety systems, then using an infotainment system that you MUST take your eyes off the road to use?

The 8" system on our SEAT and SKODA are just about as good a system as I've ever used. Why on earth get rid of it?

PS - the current voice control in SEAT and SKODA is pathetic - never use it - waste of time. Glad they're going to improve it, they can hardly make it any worse.

28 February 2018

“We talk about hatch and we talk about SUV. Why not make something in between?”

You mean like all the Crossovers which are on sale now?

28 February 2018

Seats head of interior design was quoted in a rival mag not so long ago to say that climate controls had no place on a touch screen. This gave me some hope that Seat weren't just going to follow the crowd, but looks like the guy was at odds with his colleagues. Or maybe you just shouldn't take any notice of the guff these guys churn out to gullible journalists.

28 February 2018
catnip wrote:

Seats head of interior design was quoted in a rival mag not so long ago to say that climate controls had no place on a touch screen. This gave me some hope that Seat weren't just going to follow the crowd, but looks like the guy was at odds with his colleagues. Or maybe you just shouldn't take any notice of the guff these guys churn out to gullible journalists.

yep. As an expert in the field of user-centred design (which to be honest is how all design should be considered) I’m so confused at the relentless shoehorning of climate controls into a touch screen. There’s a video that The Verge have made with the Tesla Model 3 where they practically drool over the touch screen, completely ignoring all the issues they have with it (finding hazard lights, wipers, AIR VENTS for crying out loud). 

The swarm towards touch screens for everything is rash and I’ll struggle to see otherwise unless VAG can provide solid evidence from research with their customers that they can make it work well. They should be more transparent around this stuff. Voice activation isn’t great in a car full of people, either...


"Work hard and be nice to people"

28 February 2018

Interior design may be improved, but the exterior? lifeless.

28 February 2018

Just like no one ever complained about having a handbrake, not did we ask for easy to use buttons be hidden away within a stupid screen. For goodness sake car makers, have some common sense 

1 March 2018

Hmmm, I dont see anything here that would indicate its going to be industry leading. The system on my Volvo V90 updates its content over-the-air as well as giving me the ability to interact with the car in other ways. As far as the touch screen goes, there was a bit of an initial aclimatisation whilst i got familiar with where stuff was located but I find it easy to use now. The benefit is that it offers functionality that simply would not be practical to implement with physical buttons and I think Volvos approach works well. It will be interesting to see what the VW group comes up with but nothing in this article gives me the sense it will be anything that isnt already available, let alone industry leading.

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