Seat Leon and Altea facelifts first photos

Published: 09 February 2009

Seat has given its Altea and Leon ranges a neat visual facelift, complemented by the introduction of new common rail diesel engines and enhanced levels of luxury and safety kit. The new-look models will make their debut at the Geneva motorshow in early March, alongside the new Exeo estate and a yet-to-be-seen Ecomotive concept.

Hmmm, they don’t look much different…

According to Seat, the new-look Altea and Leon families adopt Seat’s ‘Arrow Design’ look introduced on the Ibiza by Seat design boss and ex-Lamborghini designer Luc Donckerwolke to create a more consistent visual look to the Spanish range. Look carefully and you’ll spot a new grille design, a smaller seat badge, larger headlights and redesigned door mirrors. The tailgates now feature larger glass sections and new taillight designs. Inside there are tweaked instrument and centre console designs.

Any under-the-skin changes?

Dynamic changes include the introduction of Seat’s XDS electronic traction control technology – standard on the Leon – which hooks up with the ESP to do it best to mimic the action of a conventional limited slip differential but without the associated cost and weight penalties. The engine range is also bolstered by the arrival of the 170bhp 2.0 commonrail TDI engine that we’ve already sampled in the numerous VW group products, and a new flagship 210bhp 2.0 TSI petrol engine. Seat fans will be pleased to hear that its seven-cog DSG box now finally comes with paddle shifters. The options list on the Leon and Altea has also been lengthened with the inclusion of Hill Hold Control, active bi-xenon headlights and new park assist and audio systems. The cars are expected to arrive in the UK in late July, but there’s no word on pricing.

What about the A4 Avant, sorry, Exeo estate?

Dubbed ST, the reworked Audi estate will feature the same trim levels and engine/transmission line-up as the saloon. Seat has yet to release images of it, but given the ubiquity of its donor car, we reckon it should be pretty easy to work out what the ST will look like. Far more interesting is the Ecomotive concept Seat will unveil at Geneva. Although details are scarce at the moment, we understand the concept car will be based around the Leon Twin Drive Ecomotive but with next generation technology in place. We’ll have full details when we report live from the show in a few weeks time…

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars