► Facelifted Seat Leon set for January 2017 launch
► Benefits from new tech, trim levels and engine options
► Leon Cupra models expected to follow later in the year
As far as nip-and-tucks go, this is a minor one – but the updates for the 2017 Seat Leon extend beyond a few light cosmetic tweaks. The latest take on the company’s Focus-rivalling hatch also features new tech, including wireless phone charging and a digital dashboard, as well as a new top level Xcellence trim (borrowed from the Ateca SUV).
Seat’s also added two new engine choices to the line-up, but news on the updated flagship Cupra variants isn’t expected for another month or so – though the company has been hinting heavily at a number of surprises for their Golf R-rivalling hot hatch.
So. what exactly is new in the 2017 Seat Leon?
The upgrades are designed primarily to bring the Leon’s tech in line with its rivals and the recently launched Ateca. The main headline-grabber is the introduction of Seat’s own fully digital dashboard – a la Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. It’s called FPK – a German abbreviation for programmable instrument cluster – but it won’t be available straight away; Seat says it should be introduced later in the year, presumably to coincide with Skoda’s launch of its version of the system in spring 2017.
Other highlights include Traffic Jam Assist, Pedestrian Protection System, park assist and updated Traffic Sign Recognition – all fairly conventional, and all from the VW group parts bin. A centre console-mounted ignition button – or ‘heartbeating button’, according to Seat – also makes its Leon debut, as does an electric parking brake and phone connectivity box.
The introduction of the latter also grants wireless smartphone charging for those who tick the option box. Annoyingly, those hoping for wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity are still going to have to wait until VW and smartphone makers figure out how to make it work – something which Seat engineers are reluctant to put a timeline on.
Have they actually made any changes to the exterior?
Apparently so; Seat claims that the aim of the design tweaks was to ‘harmonise’ all the exterior parts of the car. Regardless, the upshot is sharper lines, a wider front grille and fancy new LED lights all round. Seat’s tried to make the car appear bigger from the outside, hence the wider front grille, though the majority of customers are unlikely to notice the difference. We certainly can’t anyway…
Jazzing things up further are three new paint colours: Desire Red, Mystery Blue and Boheme Purple, plus two new alloy wheel designs. Black Alcantara sports seats and ambient lighting nicked from the Ateca round off the subtle aesthetic changes.
What about those new engines and trim levels?
Details on the facelifted Leon Cupra will have to wait unfortunately, the brand remaining tight-lipped on the ‘surprises’ in store for its latest hot hatch. What it has confirmed, however, is a new top-spec trim level called Xcellence. If the advertising campaign doesn’t contain a thinly veiled Bill and Ted reference, Seat’s marketing people will have missed a trick.
Again, it’s simply an exercise in bringing the Leon range in line with that of Ateca. So, the top-spec model will feature lots of chrome inserts on the bodywork, an LED interior illumination pack and the curiously named KESSY as standard – Seat’s version of keyless enter and go. Seat reckons this new trim level will be selected on 25% of facelifted Leons and that it will be priced in line with current FR models, which start at around £22k in three-door form.
Things aren’t much racier on the engine front, although the introduction of the VW Group’s 113bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder should make for an enticing sweet spot in the range. We’re also due a new 1.6-litre diesel, an engine which is thought to be available with the premium Xcellence trim – in a move sure to appease company car drivers. The existing line-up of manual gearboxes and DSG options are also set to remain.
Anything else I should know?
The facelifted Seat Leon will be available to order in January 2017, boasting the same five-door, Sports Coupe and Sports Tourer bodystyles, with hot Cupra models set to follow later in the year.
Read CAR magazine’s Seat reviews