Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos: “The challenge has been developing the design of the Leon without sacrificing its personality”

Martorell, 19 February 2020

The SEAT Design Team devoted three and a half years to shaping the new Leon. Innovating, while maintaining the DNA of a brand pillar such as the SEAT Leon, proved to be a major challenge. Design director Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos tells us all about it.  

What are the most important new features of the fourth generation SEAT Leon?

On the outside, the proportions have evolved considerably. To a great extent, proportions determine the beauty of any object, and of course of a car. Seen from the side, the new Leon has a longer, lower bonnet. This gives it a sportier, more stable, bolder stance. The expression of the front end has also changed - the appearance of its headlights and their three-dimensional connection with the grille. All these features give it a distinctly Mediterranean sportiness.

The one-of-a-kind interior concept is even more innovative. Design and technology come together to create a very special ambient lighting concept which is functional at the same time.  We made several changes, but the important thing is that it is still a Leon.

What do the four generations have in common?

Their spirit. The Leon is a car with a sporty soul, but always combined with a generous amount of elegance and simplicity in its design.

What was the most difficult part to design?

Usually the most difficult thing for me is finding the perfect harmony among all the parts. But it was also a challenge how to significantly develop the design language of the Leon without sacrificing its personality. We went from very tight lines, with a very precise minimum curve radius, to a much more sensual sculpture, with more widely spaced lines, connected by large body surfaces. It was an exercise in design simplification to achieve a simple, memorable reading.

What was the contribution made by each Design team area?

When we design a new car, all areas of Design must function as well-tuned, coordinated instruments in an orchestra. We apply the best technology and the most appropriate tools at each moment and in each stage of the project. It is mostly an 80-90% digital process. This enables us to be faster and save time and resources in the process. However, there is a phase which requires us to work with a full-scale model; a final verification which is only possible with a 1:1 clay model.

How many hours did the team dedicate to the new Leon?

You don’t count the hours in design. One of the advantages of working in something we are passionate about is that our work is not done until we’re convinced the final outcome is perfect. The new Leon is proof of this. I’m proud of the team’s work; in my opinion, it’s the best Leon in history to date, so the next generation Leon will be even more challenging to create.

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