The current Leon (pictured) has been on sale since 2012
Due in summer 2019, the fourth-generation Leon is also expected to gain a crossover variant and introduce plug-in hybrid technology.
“It has fantastic design, fantastic technology and fantastic user interface,” Seat research and development boss, Matthias Rabe, told Autocar at the Mobile World Congress tech show in Barcelona.
The new car will be one of the first within the VW Group to feature a new infotainment system with the ability to update maps, apps and functionality over-the-air, much like your smartphone. While the technology will be used across VW, Seat is as the forefront within the group in developing it to appeal to its younger customer base.
“For two years we have been working on what will be the best infotainment system coming to market next year, starting with the Leon,” Seat CEO Luca De Meo said at the Barcelona event.
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 technology it will migrate much 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 dials.
The design and packaging of the five-door will “not be a typical hatch,” said Rabe. He added “it will create some desire”. It will again use the VW Group’s MQB platform.
Along with a hatchback and estate, we can expect a new crossover version that will sit between the hatch and the Ateca SUV to create a new segment. “We talk about hatch and we talk about SUV. Why not make something in between?” Rabe said. Seat already sells lifted ‘Allroad’ versions of its Leon estate under the X-Perience sub-brand, but Rabe said this would be a “more extreme” version of that.
The three-door is expected to be dropped, while high-powered petrol versions will fall under Seat’s new Cupra brand.
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 near-diesel levels of economy. This is likely to use the 48V system mated to a 1.5-litre TSI engine, as used for this Golf prototype.