The third-generation Seat Leon has been unveiled in five-door form; sporty three-door and practical estate variants will follow. Prices start at £15,670
Matt Burt
27 September 2012

Seat will broaden the scope of the third-generation Seat Leon by offering it in three distinct body styles for the first time, in a bid to replicate the success of its most popular model, the Ibiza. It has received its first public outing at the Paris motor show.

Seat has also announced the pricing, which starts at £15,670 for the entry-level 1.2-litre 'S' to £22,375 for the range-topping 2.0-litre TDI in FR trim which are broadly in-line with the model it replaces.

In addition to the five-door, seen here for the first time, the Volkswagen Group’s Spanish offshoot is planning three-door and estate versions and is promising an end to the ‘one car for all purposes’ philosophy that has underpinned previous generations of the Leon.

The five-door, which is the first Seat to wear the company's subtly restyled 'S' badge, is also the first car in the segment to be offered with full LED headlamps. Three-door and estate body styles will follow next year.

The new Leon is the second car to be shown on the Volkswagen Group’s flexible new MQB platform, after the Audi A3. It is also the first production car to feature Seat’s latest design language, which was previewed on the IBE, IBX and IBL concept cars of the past three years.

The “technical, sharp look” was initially the work of Luc Donckerwolke, now head of advanced design for the VW Group, before being further honed by Seat’s current design chief, Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos.

The new five-door Leon is 4263mm long, 1816mm wide and 1459mm high. That’s 52mm shorter, 48mm wider and 4mm higher than the outgoing machine. Its wheelbase is also 58mm longer, at 2636mm.

The use of the MQB underpinnings provides a weight saving of about 90kg compared with the Leon Mk2, which weighed 1250kg in its most basic engine guise and trim level.

Our Verdict

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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The new Leon is to be offered in the UK with a wider choice of engines than the current second-generation version. It will get five petrol options and four diesel variants from the VW Group’s engine range, although not all of them will be available at launch.

The petrol line-up comprises a 1.2 TSI with either 85bhp or 104bhp and a sub-140g/km 1.8 TSI with 178bhp. A 1.4 TSI with either 120bhp or 138bhp will follow. The 138bhp version will have Active Cylinder Technology, which closes down two cylinders during light throttle loads.

The oil-burners in the range are a 1.6 TDI with either 89bhp or 104bhp, and a 2.0 TDI offered in 148bhp or 181bhp states of tune. Seat says the 148bhp version of this engine will emit less than 110g/km and return more than 70mpg. As with the current car, the frugal Ecomotive and sporty FR and Cupra sub-brands will feature in the Leon line-up. The car pictured here is the 148bhp FR variant.

One of the stand-out cars in terms of emissions will be the 104bhp 1.6 TDI, which will return a claimed 73.4mpg and emit 99g/km of CO2.

Transmission options will be either a five- or six-speed manual, or a six- or seven-speed dual clutch gearbox.

Most of the cars in the Leon range feature a MacPherson front axle with a torsion beam at the rear, but the more sporty cars with 148bhp and above have a multi-link suspension at the back.

The Leon FR will get 'Seat Drive Profile', a system that allows the power steering, throttle control and engine sound to be adjusted to one of three modes – eco, comfort and sport. There is also a facility to tailor the settings according to the driver's preference. The interior ambient LED lighting changes according to the selected setting: white in eco and comfort modes and red in sport.

The manufacturer has promised a more premium feel to the cabin, which was criticised for its blandness in the second-generation car. A wide range of Alcantara and leather trim will be offered on higher-spec examples, and improvements in the quality of the materials and of fit and finish are being targeted.

Enhanced multimedia systems and connectivity will also be available. The basis will be the Easy Connect operating system, which controls the hifi and communication functions via a touch-sensitive screen in the cockpit.

The entry trim level features Media System Touch, which incorporates a CD/radio, four speakers and a five-inch touchscreen. Higher-spec variants get Media System Colour, which has a higher-quality touchscreen, CD, six speakers and connectivity for Bluetooth, USB or aux-in.

Above that, Media System Plus includes a 5.8in touchscreen with 3D graphics, iPod connectivity, an optional DAB radio tuner and voice recognition.

The new Leon range will be produced at Seat’s facility in Martorell, Spain, alongside the Ibiza, Exeo and Audi Q3. When the model comes on stream, it will bring the factory close to its 600,000-unit annual capacity.

The new car will be available to order in October with the first deliveries landing in March.

Join the debate



16 July 2012

A smart looking car, and I can see the influence of the IBE.  Ironically, it's ended up looking like the new Kia Cee'd, which we all said looked like a SEAT.

16 July 2012

Seat, IMHO, have been on a style slide since after the orginal Leon, however, this does seem better than I expected.

Shame, though, that they've dropped the 'Alfa' style hidden rear door handles and gone back to standard ones...

16 July 2012

Its interesting that Seat are going to introduce a 3 door version of a car this size, but at the same time Renault are dropping the 3 door Clio. I think the former decision makes rather more sense than the latter.

16 July 2012

Looks quite nice. Looking forward to the estate version. I'm liking the Focus ST estate, but the looks of the new Leon are much better in my opinion. At least in 5-door shape. Regarding the interior, I do miss, the middle-mounted rev counter of the mk2. Not many hot hatches had that.


Hopefully the FR version will also be available as an estate. The mk7 Golf GTI is rumored to have 220bhp, why not have a Leon FR estate with the same powertrain, while saving a couple of thousand quid?

16 July 2012

Looks like seat has got a new badge, removing the stripe between the two halves of the 's' - they've also removed the red glow on the badge on the steering wheel

16 July 2012

It's ok, looks like a thorough refresh of the current car. I prefer the look of the MK1 though. I had a mk1 as a company car in 2001 and loved it (stupid sport seats apart).

The interior looks far better than the current one though


16 July 2012

Bland compared to some artists impressions.

Sides are pure Kia/Hyundai, rear is almost identical to the new Clio.

Why do all cars need to be 2 inches wider than the previous model?

16 July 2012

In response to Irh.

Why do all cars need to be 2 inches wider than the previous model?

That will be to make them more attractive to the American market!

 Offence can only be taken not given- so give it back!

16 July 2012

I find the exterior styling of this new Leon uglier but I may be biased as an owner of the current generation Leon. There are no more hidden rear door handles, nor vertical wipers, and the front and back are kind of bland and clumsy... Hopefully the 3-door version will look much sportier and sleeker. I love my Leon for its handling and ride, and the 1.8 TSI engine is a charm and I hope they've at least kept those in the new range, otherwise I'll have to turn to other brands for an upgrade.

16 July 2012

Not bad at all in isolation, but IMO looks way too similar to an Ibiza...


- Follow your own star -


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