From the first design to the latest generation, a look back at the history of the SEAT Leon.
The SEAT Leon is a moderate, five seater family car which was first released onto the market in 1999. Virtually a hatchback version of the popular SEAT Toledo, the Leon shared many traits with the Volkswagen Golf thanks in part to it being based on the Volkswagen Group A4 platform. Originally marketed as a cheaper, sportier alternative to the Golf, the Mark 1 Leon boasted aggressive looks, a powerful internal combustion engine and firm suspension.
Produced until 2005, the Mark 1 Leon was available with a diverse range of engine options, including the 1.4 16 valve and 1.6 8 valve petrol engines and a 2.8 litre VR6 engine. All engines over 129bhp came with a standard six speed manual transmission, while all high end models were fitted with multi-link independent rear suspension.
The Mark 2 SEAT Leon was released onto the market in 2005. Based on the VW Group A5 platform and manufactured in Spain, the new Leon was designed by the iconic designer Walter de’Silva and sported a sharper exterior look than the previous generation. The new Leon shared a number of key design features with the popular SEAT Altea such as integrated rear door handles and vertically parked windscreen wipers.
Available with a range of engine options, the second generation Leon quickly won over the critics and won a host of motoring accolades including the “Red Dot” award in 2006 and being named “Car of the Year 2006″ in Denmark.
Keen to appeal to a range of different motoring needs, the Spanish manufacturer has released a range of different Leons in recent years. June 2006 saw the launch of the Leon FR which featured twin exhaust pipes and sport seats, while 2008 saw the introduction of the Leon Kupra K1. Only available for one year, the Leon Kupra K1 featured exclusively re-worked bumpers, a pronounced tailgate spolier and side skirts.
Looking ahead to the future, industry sources believe the Mark 3 Leon could be ready for release in 2012, with a plug-in hybrid due to follow shortly after. Powered by an electric motor and lithium-ion batteries, it’s thought the Leon Twin Drive Ecomotive would be the first electric vehicle released by the Spanish firm when it goes on to the market in 2014.