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New 2019 SEAT Leon spied - the car to underpin Focus ST-rivalling Cupra Leon

Jordan Katsianis
20 Nov 2018

New SEAT Leon will turn into first Cupra-branded Leon, to be revealed mid-2019

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The next SEAT Leon has been spied as it closes in on its official reveal with what looks like production-ready body styling and lighting units. Sharing its underpinnings with the next Golf, A3 and Skoda Octavia, the current generation SEAT Leon was the first to adopt the VW Group’s now ubiquitous MQB platform, one that is likely to be carried across into this new generation when it’s revealed in 2019.

Looking at this prototype, it is clear that the next Leon will have a more shapely body, trading the taut, neat proportions of the current car for a more sculptural and aggressive shape. The nose clearly takes cues from the new Terraco SUV, the first model to adopt SEAT’s next generation design language, including a reshaped grille and slim, pointed headlights.

> Read our review of the current SEAT Leon Cupra

The windowline does mimic the current model, with a sharp upturn forming a solid c-pillar, but below is now a much larger, more defined shoulder line over the rear wheels, leading to a sharper rear screen rake and tapered tail. The rear lights have also made a dramatic change, peeking from behind the camouflage are thin, triangular LED units. Look closer and you’ll also see some light being emitted from the centre of the tailgate, pointing towards a likely application of a full-width light bar under the shallow rear window.

The next Leon will unfortunately lose its three-door SC option, the range now being made up from five-door and estate models only. We also suspect that the interior will undergo a major overhaul, being one element often criticised in the current generation. Expect a wider application of the VW Group’s latest tech, including larger high-res displays and improved interior plastics as the brand continues to push further towards the premium end of the market.

SEAT has confirmed that the next Leon will be available in plug-in hybrid form, opening the door to a possible integration of hybrid tech in the next generation Cupra variants. Whether this takes the form of a Volkswagen GTE-style warm hatch, or something more in the vein of a mild-hybrid, we can only speculate, but the work completed by SEAT in further integrating electrification could yield interesting possibilities for the next generation of Cupras.

> Click here for our look at the new Cupra Ateca

More certain is the next hot Leon will be a Cupra and not a SEAT. It’ll follow in the performance versions of the Ateca and Ibiza and won’t be badged as a SEAT but, like all future fast versions from the Spanish maker, it’ll be a Cupra. This restructure forms a part of SEAT’s aggressive expansion plans in the hope of generating more revenue for the company.

Adding weight to our ruminations about the future of Cupra, SEAT boss Luca de Meo stated at a recent media event that Cupra is ‘a brand that generates more income, attracts new customers, remains committed to motorsport, seamlessly integrates technologies such as electrification, hybridisation, connectivity and driver assistants, and enhances the image, credibility and reputation of the entire SEAT organisation.’

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