The Seat Ateca SUV is the first of four new models to be launched by the firm in the next two years, Autocar has learned.
Autocar understands that the facelifted Leon will highlight a more grown-up look for the range. Work has also been done on refinement, and more technology and convenience options will been added.
The Ibiza that will follow in 2017 will be an all-new car, and the first to be based on the VW Group's MQB A0 platform. It will be a bolder looking car with improved quality, refinement and detailing. It will then spawn an SUV model, which will go head to head with the Nissan Juke.
Without confirming specifics about the models, design boss Alejandro Mesonero Romanos revealed that each new Seat would move the firm's design language up another step. However, he also said that even after the launch of the four new cars he would consider Seat to be in "phase one" of its rebuilding process.
He also ruled out the possibility of coupe-styled SUVs for Seat, saying they would not be practical enough. However he said that a larger, seven-seat SUV previewed by the 20V20 concept stood a favourable chance of making production by the end of the decade.
"To me that car is the top of phase one, phase two will be something else..." he told Autocar.
There are also no plans to bring back a large saloon to the Seat range after the demise of the Audi A4-based Exeo. Mesonero Romanos said this is because the market is now demanding SUVs rather than saloons. "It's not a question of not liking saloons, it's that we have priorities," he said.
Meanwhile, Seat boss Luca De Meo said that at the end of the model offensive Seat should be sustainably profitable, adding that the Ateca was a "major step" towards this. He added that SUVs were important in growing brand awareness according to Seat's research, and said the Ateca would be "a key challenge and opportunity" in helping boost Seat's image. De Meo also highlighted that "the perception of Seat outside the company is very different to the strength we see inside".
However, De Meo conceded that the VW Group emissions scandal had "obviously not been a good thing" for Seat. However, he added: "It has promoted a reaction of pride in our company, and a determination to do things better. It's an opportunity."
De Meo added that there were no imminent plans to launch electric cars or hybrids but said it would happen within the next five-six years. He also stressed that he wanted to avoid badge-engineering models in core segments in future, and said badge-engineered models like the Mii and Toledo were "not helpful for building the brand".
De Meo also reported sales growth for Seat in 2015. Although sales dropped in the UK, sales worldwide increase to 400,000 cars, the best figures since 2007. Germany is the top market for Seat, where it sold 87,800 cars last year, up 3.8% year on year.
The Martorell factory where most Seats are built alongside the Audi Q3 produced 477,000 cars last year, an 8% rise year-on-year and 60% up on 2009, when just 301,000 models were produced.