By Jens Meiners
A half year after the unveiling of the third-generation SEAT Leon, VW’s struggling Spanish affiliate launches its first-ever three-door derivative, the SEAT Leon SC. The abbreviation stands for Sports Coupé—and to prove its sporting aspirations, the Leon SC comes with a shorter wheelbase and a more attractive rear end, which slightly reminds us of the beautiful but inherently flawed Alfa Romeo Brera. And that, perhaps, is no coincidence: SEAT has been targeting Fiat’s sporty subsidiary for a few years, even though customers have failed to respond to the supposed move upmarket so far.
The Leon SC is available with four diesel engines: a 1.6 TDI with 90 or 105 horsepower, and a 2.0 TDI with 150 or 184 horsepower. It also can be had with one of five gasoline engines: a 1.2 TSI with 86 or 105 horsepower, a 1.4 TSI with 122 or 140 horsepower, and a 1.8 TSI with 180 horsepower. Manual and dual-clutch automatic gearboxes are available. And the most powerful version is yet to come: The Leon Cupra, due to be launched in late 2013, with a 2.0-liter TSI that produces around 300 horsepower, just like in the upcoming VW Golf R and Audi S3. SEAT will introduce a third body variation—a five-door station wagon, due before the end of 2013 as well.
- First Drive: 2013 Audi A3 Euro Spec
- First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf
- Instrumented Test: 2013 Audi S5 3.0T Manual
Technological highlights include a multilink rear axle, which is standard on the top-of-the-line diesel and gasoline versions, and optional LED headlights. The Valeo-supplied units, dubbed BiLED, are a novelty in this class, and they create a specific, triangular light signature for the Leon.
SEAT has no plans to launch in the U.S., but the brand is betting big on the Chinese market. The Leon could become a real success in Europe as well because unlike its Audi A3 and VW Golf sister models, it takes a stylistic leap forward.