Martorell, Spain - Despite its rather short lifespan on the South African market, between 2006 and 2008, the Seat Leon garnered a loyal following, particularly in its Cupra format where it showed the Golf GTI of the time a clean pair of heels.
Sadly the Volkswagen-owned Spanish brand was pulled from our market following a bungled marketing strategy that saw the vehicles initially positioned more upmarket than they were Europe, but the cars that South Africans grew to love in those two short years have continued to evolve and the latest to emerge looks to be the best and most advanced yet.
On Tuesday night Seat pulled the covers off its fourth-generation Leon, which shares its MQB platform with the Golf 8, but as has become the norm the Spanish hatchback gets a more striking design than its German cousin. As before, the latest Leon is being offered as a five-door hatchback and wagon.
The Leon gets its own unique look inside too, although like the Golf it takes connectivity to the next level with cloud-based Car2X technology that warns drivers about upcoming traffic lights or incidents, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay, ‘natural’ voice control and remote access to the car’s data. Driver assistance systems include the new Predictive Adaptive Cruise Control, which uses satnav and camera data to proactively amend the cruise speed in accordance with the road layout ahead.
But local fans are no doubt wondering where the Cupra version is - and that reveal, we presume, is for another day. The initial range does however include FR versions, which get racy design enhancements inside and out, while the top engine for now is the 140kW version of the VW Group’s 2-litre TSI unit. Other turbopetrol engines include the 1.5 TSI Evo in 96kW and 110kW guises as well as the three-pot 1.0 TSI with 81kW. The two smaller engines are available with mild hybrid technology and, as per the Golf, there’s also a 1.4-litre plug-in-hybrid variant. The diesel flag is flown by two 2-litre TDI models with outputs of 85kW and 110kW.