All-new SEAT Leon

Heritage: The path towards the fourth generation

Martorell, 16 March 2020

Since its introduction in 1999 the SEAT Leon has been one of the pillars of the brand, recording astounding sales numbers, introducing new technologies and bringing new levels of dynamism and design to an incredibly competitive segment.

All generations have been designed, developed and produced in Barcelona at the brand’s Martorell facilities. The SEAT Leon was named after the Spanish city Leon, a tradition at SEAT since 14 models have been named after a Spanish city (Ronda, Ibiza, Malaga, Marbella, Toledo, Inca, Alhambra, Cordoba, Arosa, Leon, Altea, Ateca, Arona and Tarraco).

The first-generation SEAT Leon, marked the brands entry to the C-segment in 1999, and sold more than 500,000 units. But it was also a car that brought a range of technologies with it; from its Haldex all-wheel drive system, (it was the first SEAT to mate all-wheel drive with fully independent multi-link suspension) six-speed transmission and a powerful 132kW/180PS engine.

The first-generation SEAT Leon was also the first of the brand’s hatch models to offer more than 147kW/200PS after the introduction of the Leon Cupra 2.8 V6 in 2000. An astonishing vehicle, with a V6 engine that produced 150kW/204PS.

By 2005 it was time for a new model and SEAT introduced the second-generation Leon. It had a challenge surpassing the success of the previous vehicle, but it did.

Not only did the second-generation usher in the introduction of electromechanical power steering, direct-injection technology, start&stop and an energy recovery alternator, it also boosted safety.

The Leon now benefitted from an improved ESP system, electronic locking of the EDS differential, an EBA system, and complemented by overboost technology that allowed maximum braking performance even with high disc temperatures. There was also a BSW system that cleaned the brakes when the windshield wiper was operated. Not forgetting the Driver Steering Recommendation, that helped maintain vehicle trajectory if an emergency occurred.

The vehicle also set up the next-generation CUPRA variant – the Leon CUPRA R, with its 194kW/265PS 2.0 litre TSI engine – a car that became the most powerful model in SEAT’s history at the time.

In total, over 675,000 second-generation SEAT Leons were sold, and it helped set the tone for the third-generation car, one that would set the bar even higher.

Introduced in 2012, the third generation of SEAT Leon was arguably the brand’s most technologically advanced vehicle to date offering a plethora of performance, efficiency and safety technology. All engines at launch included start& stop, it offered Full LED headlights, High-Beam Assist, Lane Control Assist, Fatigue Detection and all versions included seven airbags as standard. As well as these, it also integrated SEAT FullLink, boosting the brand’s connectivity options.

By July 2019 over a million units had been sold, cementing its place as one of the SEAT’s most successful vehicles.

And the success wasn’t found just in sales figures, but on the track too. In 2014, the Leon CUPRA SC (3-door version) with its 205kW/280PS four-cylinder TSI engine  became the fastest front-wheel drive compact car to take on the famous Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit, going under the eight minute record with a time of 7:58.44 under the control of driver and ambassador Jordi Gené.