Plug-in hybrid hot hatch will crown Mk5 Leon, on sale in Seat and Cupra guises in 2020.
Scop Seat’s new VW Golf beater
KING OF LEON: 241BHP CUPRA-BADGED PLUG-IN HYBRID CROWNS NEW LINE-UP
Seat Leon Hot plug-in Cupra spices up new range
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.
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 higher-spec 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 allelectric 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.
“Expect a 0-62mph time of around 6.5sec and an all-electric range of up to 35 miles from the Cupra Leon”
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 Drive-My 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.
Cupra-badged Leon is due to go on sale in autumn next year. Seat (far left) and Cupra Leons will have evolutionary design