Seat has released the first official pictures of the new Leon which will make its public debut at the Barcelona International Motor Show in May (7-15 May 2005). The Leon is the third model in the new generation of Seat products which also includes Altea and Toledo.

The new Leon is based on the Walter de’Silva concept car of 2000, the Salsa, and exudes his trademark “design to stir the emotions”. It brings the sporty looks and desirability of a coupe to a five-door hatch. As well as the overall styling, this coupe effect has been achieved by concealing the rear door handles in the door frame.

The new Leon’s face is instantly recognisable as Seat with its expressive headlamps, strong bonnet lines, and grille with central Seat logo. From the side, the now familiar Dynamic Line – a design characteristic of all new generation Seat models – can be seen sloping downwards from the front wheel arch, over the doors to the rear wheel. Another distinctive new Seat feature is the positioning of the windscreen wipers which sit vertically at rest and sweep with a butterfly pattern, although unlike the Altea, they are fully visible and not hidden in the A-pillars.

The new Leon is slightly larger than its predecessor: it has grown in length by 132 mm to 4315 mm, and width by 26 mm to 1768 mm. The wheelbase is longer by 65 mm taking it to 2578 mm which, together with the skills of the engineers and designers at Seat, has allowed for an interior with outstanding passenger space. The boot capacity is 341 litres.

At launch the new Leon will be available with a choice of four engines: two diesel, two petrol. The petrol engines are the 1.6 102 PS and 2.0 FSI 150 PS, while diesel customers have the choice of 1.9 105 PS TDI and 2.0 140 PS TDI. All engines comply with EU4 emissions regulations. The gearboxes will be a standard 5-speed manual with the 1.6 and 1.9, while both 2.0 litre engines will have 6-speed manual gearboxes as standard, with the choice of an automatic with sequential Tiptronic function with the FSI or the DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) with the 2.0 TDI.

The new Leon also benefits from the Seat-developed Agile Chassis which is currently used on other models in the range, but has been refined further for the Leon. The independent front suspension with MacPherson struts is mounted on a new aluminium sub-chassis, and the rear suspension is fully independent and uses a four-arm multilink axle. Electro-mechanical power steering and ventilated disc brakes at the front and solid discs at the rear complete the picture. ABS, TCS traction control and the latest generation ESP electronic stability programme are the active safety systems that enhance the vehicle’s braking power and steering in critical situations.

Passenger protection comes in the form of six-standard fit airbags (two front, two side and two curtain) and rear side airbags are an option. Three-point seatbelts are fitted to all five seats, with pre-tensioners and force limiters in the front and ISOFIX anchorage points and force limiters on the two outer rear seats.

The new Leon will be built exclusively at the Seat plant in Martorell, Spain and will be available in a choice of four trim and equipment levels.