SPANISH maker SEAT has unveiled the latest generation of its Ford Focus-rivalling Leon - a car which it claims is its ‘most forward-thinking product' ever.
Available in both hatchback and estate body styles, the latest Leon will come with both mild and plug-in hybrid powertrains and the latest high-tech connectivity features and automated safety systems.
The Leon has been the cornerstone of the SEAT range since 1999 with more than 2.2 million global sales - more than a quarter of a million of them sold in the UK.
The new model shares most of its underpinnings, powertrains and technology with the latest Volkswagen Golf - but the styling, inside and out, is all SEAT's own work.
According to SEAT design director Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos: "Although the all-new SEAT Leon is an evolution in our design language, it still presents itself as a bolder vehicle than the previous generation, and keeps hold of the brand's DNAâ¦"
Built on the VW Group's advanced MQB Evo platform, the new Leon has grown in length thanks to a longer wheelbase which also provides 49mm of extra rear legroom. Although the new model has a lower roofline than before, clever packaging means that front seat passengers get more headroom.
The new 2020 Leon will come with a choice of petrol, diesel, mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains which can be mated to either six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG auto transmissions, the latter with shift-by-wire technology.
Full specs and trim levels for the UK have yet to be revealed but standard equipment across the range will include keyless start, two USB points in the front, LED headlight technology with automatic high beam, electric and heated side mirrors, electronic parking brake, an eight-inch infotainment system, cloth upholstery, leather steering wheel and gear stick, alloy wheels, metallic paint and SEAT Connect technology.
SEAT says that the new Leon is the safest vehicle the brand has ever developed thanks to the integration of a suite of updated and completely new advanced driver assistance systems including - depending on model - predictive adaptive cruise control and emergency assist.
The system feeds from GPS data delivered from the navigation system and input from the front-mounted camera and traffic sign recognition, allowing it to proactively amend the cruise speed depending on the road layout ahead - bends, roundabouts, junctions, changes in speed limits and built-up areas - as long as the driver keeps at least one hand on the wheel.
Although the latest Leon is already in production at the company's Barcelona factory, right hand drive models aren't expected to arrive here until spring at the earliest and the model line up, specifications and prices - likely to be a little higher than the outgoing model - will be revealed nearer to the car's UK launch.