Seat has shown the first pictures of its third generation Leon, to compete in the Focus/Golf segment.
It is based on the MQB platform, developed by parent company, VW, which you are going to hear a lot about. It is a common architecture that will underpin everything from Polos to Passats. VW reckons it is a revolution in car manufacturing and will enable the company to reap vast economies of scale: a figure of 5 million MQB units a year is quite possible.
But back to the Leon. Mechanically it is pure VW Group: 1.2, 1.4 and 1.8 TSI petrol engines plus 1.6 and 2.0 TDI diesel (the latter with up to 181 bhp, which seems an awful lot for a small family oil-burner). Economy is said to be improved by up to 22% compared to the outgoing model.
Naturally, there is the full range of modern electronic features, such as automatic main beam and lane departure warning. One new feature is "drowsiness detection" which apparently recognizes when the driver is losing concentration and suggests taking a break. It is a good idea, but it could lead to some fraught family journeys: Passenger: "The car says you are tired". Driver: "No. I'm not." And so on for the rest of the trip.
It is expected to go on sale in early 2013, with a three door and an estate following on later.