Cupra, SEAT

2021 Cupra Formentor spy shots

Spain’s Cupra is out testing a production version of the Formentor concept that was unveiled at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show.

The new SUV will be the first standalone model from Cupra, which so far has only launched tuned versions of vehicles from Spanish mainstream brand SEAT (pronounced “say-at”).

Cupra for years has served as the performance arm of Volkswagen Group-owned SEAT. However, in 2018 it was transformed into a standalone brand, similar to what Mercedes-Benz has done with AMG, or Volvo with Polestar. VW decided to launch the brand after its offer to purchase Alfa Romeo from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was knocked back.

The new SUV, which isn’t confirmed to carry the Formentor name of the concept, is expected to debut in late 2020 or early the following year. The design is very close to that of the concept, right down to the round fog lights positioned directly below the headlights.

Cupra Formentor concept

We don’t expect the concept’s plug-in hybrid powertrain to make it into production, although it hasn’t been ruled out. The powertrain was only good for 240 horsepower and Cupra’s Ateca SUV already offers up 296 hp from the same 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 fitted to the Volkswagen Golf R, so you’d imagine Cupra will want to offer more in its first standalone model.

Rumor has it that the new SUV will come with the 400-hp, 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5 fitted to the Audi RS 3 in range-topping guise. All-wheel drive is expected, too.

VW Group has bold ambitions for Cupra. The goal is to double the current sales of Cupra-badged models within the next 4-5 years. To do this, new models will be launched in quick succession, including potentially EVs.

Sadly, there are no plans to introduce Cupra in the United States anytime soon.

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Cars, International News, SEAT

2020 Seat Leon debuts – MQB Evo hatchback, estate; 1.4 litre TSI petrol plug-in hybrid with 60 km EV range

Seat has unveiled the latest, fourth-generation Leon, an all-new model that is based on the latest iteration of the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform dubbed MQB Evo, which underpins the eighth-generation Golf that was launched in October last year. Two bodystyles comprise the debut line-up; a five-door hatchback and a Sportstourer station wagon.

The five-door hatchback measures 4,368 mm long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,456 mm tall, making it 86 mm longer, 16 mm narrower and 3 mm lower than the previous generation Leon. The Sportstourer station wagon measures 4,642 mm long and the same width and height and the five-door hatch, making it 93 mm longer than its equivalent long-roof predecessor and like the hatchback, 16 mm narrower and 3 mm lower than before. Wheelbase for both is 2,686 mm, or 50 mm more than the previous generation Leon in both cases.

The Seat Leon now employs full-LED headlamps that emit 900 lumens from 22 LEDs in each module, which integrates all headlamp functions such as low beam, high beam, daytime running lights and dynamic indicators. The side mirrors’ LED indicators also include welcome lights on variants will full LED lighting, and these project the word ‘Hola!’ – or ‘hello’, in Seat’s native Spanish – on the ground.

Powertrain for the fourth-generation Seat Leon is comprised of petrol, diesel, compressed natural gas, mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid options. The first includes a 1.0 litre TSI three-cylinder turbo petrol in 90 PS and 110 PS forms, a Miller-cycle 1.5 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol with variable geometry turbo and Active Cylinder Management in 130 PS and 150 PS forms, and a 2.0 litre TSI four-cylinder turbo petrol that produces 190 PS.

Seat continues to employ diesel power for the latest Leon in both hatchback and station wagon bodystyles, with a 2.0 litre TDI turbodiesel unit in three states of tune. The base 115 PS unit is paired with a manual transmission for both hatchback and Sportstourer bodystyles, and this is joined by a 150 PS diesel unit that can be mated with either manual or DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions, and front-wheel-drive for both power levels. The Sportstourer wagon also gets the 150 PS option with a DSG and 4Drive all-wheel-drive.

On the natural gas option, a sole 1.5 litre TGI engine tune produces 130 PS, with a three-tank setup for a total capacity of 17.3 kg that gives the natural gas-powered Leon a CNG range of 440 km. Upon depletion of the natural gas tanks, the CNG-powered Leon switches to petrol power until its natural gas is refilled.

Mild hybrid electrification features on the 110 PS and 150 PS versions of the 1.0 litre and 1.5 litre engines, respectively. These employ a 48V electrical architecture incorporating a starter-generator and lithium-ion battery that enables engine-off coasting, energy recovery as well as electric boost functions, and both mild hybrid engines pair with the DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Last but not least in this launch line-up is the plug-in hybrid variant, which pairs a 1.4 litre TSI turbo petrol engine and six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic with a electric motor and 13 kWh lithium-ion battery pack for a total system output of 204 PS. This variant is rated for an electric-only range of 60 km on the WLTP cycle, and will be available in both hatchback and Sportstourer station wagon bodystyles.

Four trim levels are available on the 2020 Seat Leon – Reference, Style, Xcellence and FR. Reference is the base trim level with electric exterior mirrors, six airbags, seatbelt reminders, electronic stability control and tyre pressure monitoring as standard, while the Style trim level adds heated exterior mirrors, cruise control and leather for the steering wheel and gear knob, and optional 17-inch alloys; 16-inch items are standard.

The Xcellence and FR trim levels are two of the top trim specifications, with the FR being the sportier setup with an FR-specific suspension tune, FR bumpers, 17-inch wheels (18-inch wheels are optional) and FR badging. Where the FR trim level is the sportier one in terms of styling with darkened grille and bumper inserts, the Xcellence trim brings more chrome brightwork with a hot-stamped diamond grille and chrome window surrounds.

The latest Seat Leon employs wraparound, full-LED ambient lighting in its cabin, arcing across the front doors to the top of the dashboard, which welcomes its occupants with a ‘ceremony’ sequence and can have its colour and tone adjusted as required. This will also give occupants a visual representation of changes between drive modes, says Seat.

The Seat Digital Cockpit offers the driver a 10.25-inch configurable digital display, and this is paired with either the standard Media system which brings an 8.25-inch infotainment screen with smartphone audio capability, while the Navi setup brings a 10-inch screen with 3D navigation, Retina display with natural voice control and gesture recognition.

Voice recognition in the Leon enables natural understanding of the spoken language in order for the user to interact with the infotainment system with natural commands, particularly with making corrections and referencing previous commands. In terms of mobile device connectivity, Full Link supports Apple CarPlay on Bluetooth or WLAN, and Android Auto via a cabled connection.

The fourth-generation Leon is Seat’s first ‘fully-connected’ car, the firm says. The Full Link setup allows users to bring their mobile devices’ digital ecosystem into the car, such as with phone contact lists, music and mapping systems, which will be accessible via the infotainment system or the integrated steering wheel controls, says Seat. The Leon also supports remote access of vehicle data, and the PHEV version supports managing of charging and air-conditioning control.

The fourth-generation Leon is the safest the brand has ever developed, says Seat, with the inclusion of advanced driver assistance systems. These include adaptive cruise control (ACC), Emergency Assist 3.0, Travel Assist as well as Side and Exit Assist, an ensemble which protects the vehicle and its occupants both while driving and when stationary, the automaker says.

Dynamic Chassis Control adapts the Leon’s ride and handling characteristics depending on conditions and the driver’s demands by reading road conditions as well as driver inputs such as steering, braking and acceleration inputs, and can adjust the car’s damping at each wheel as required.

Predictive adaptive cruise control in the Leon draws GPS data from the navigation system, enabling it to adjust its speed to suit the upcoming road layout, such as when approaching bends, roundabouts, junctions, changes in speed limits and built-up areas, says Seat. The Leon’s front-mounted camera with traffic sign recognition enables the car to change its speed according to posted limits when these are approached.

To be introduced to the Seat Leon in the future is the Travel Assist feature, which will provide assisted driving with information from the adaptive cruise control and lane assist functions to keep the vehicle in lane and adjust to the speed of prevailing traffic at speeds of up to 210 km/h. The assisted driving function extends to overtaking as well; activating the indicator will have the vehicle automatically overtake if the systems consider traffic conditions to be permitting.

Seat notes, however that the driver ‘must maintain constant monitoring of the system and their surroundings’, with at least one hand placed on the steering wheel. Audible and visual warnings will be emitted if the Leon’s steering wheel capacitive sensors detect that the driver has let go of the helm for more than 15 seconds, and a braking jolt can be transmitted if there continues to not detect driver monitoring.

If the driver still fails to respond after the aforementioned warnings, the Emergency Assist system in the Leon can bring the car to a complete stop. Another feature in the Leon’s safety suite is Exit Warning, which emit an audible warning if approaching traffic is detected when the car is stationary and a door is opened. The system detects both motor vehicles on the road side, as well as pedestrians on the kerb side, says Seat.

The 2020 Seat Leon is set to make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show this March, where it will be joined by the performance halo model, the Cupra Leon, which will also be available in conventional petrol and plug-in hybrid forms, Autocar reports.



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Cars, EVs and Alternative Fuel, Hybrids, International News, SEAT

2020 Seat Leon to feature PHEV Cupra range-topper

The next-generation Seat Leon is set to make its debut this year, and will use the latest iteration of the MQB platform from the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf, Autocar reports. This platform’s adoption will see the next Leon use powertrains and technology from the latest German hatchback, and is expected to debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March this year.

The Leon range will be topped by a 241 bhp plug-in hybrid variant parked under the Cupra sub-brand, and will initially be the sole powertrain variant for the Cupra Leon hatchback and estate bodystyles, the report noted. Inside, the Leon is expected to take the minimalist, technology-laden approach as seen in the latest Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia, where conventional button count will be reduced in favour of an infotainment setup which employs advanced voice and gesture controls.

The sharing of the MQB architecture with the latest Golf and Octavia is aimed at achieving greater body shell stiffness and improved packaging. Autocar notes that the Leon has historically been the sportier-feeling amongst to MQB-underpinned trio with higher spring and damper rates, and this trend is expected to continue with the forthcoming Leon.

Likewise, powertrain for the Leon will be familiar from other MQB-based entrants, where the base Leon will use the 1.0 litre turbo three-cylinder petrol in various tunes, while the larger 1.5 litre TSI Evo petrol unit will go into higher-specification models. A 48V-architecture mild-hybrid system is expected to save fuel usage by around 10%, the report says.

On the diesel front, expected options for the Seat Leon so far are a sole 2.0 litre turbodiesel unit in `114 bhp and 148 bhp states of tune from the Golf, with the pairing of both manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions. The top of the conventional, non-cuppa Leon range will be the 1.4 litre turbo petrol paired with an electric motor, also as featured in the latest non-GTE PHEV Golf.

The aforementioned range-topping Cupra Leon will use a more highly-tuned version of the same 1.4 litre petrol-electric powertrain, from which a 0-100 km/h time of 6.5 seconds can be expected, says Autocar. Here, a 13 kWh battery enables a pure electric driving range of up to 56 km and lower CO2 emissions as a result, which will be helpful in attaining fleet average emissions targets for both Seat and the Cupra sub-brand.

GALLERY: 2020 Seat Leon spy shots



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Cars, International News, SEAT

No bespoke sports car from Seat’s Cupra brand – CEO

Seat’s Cupra sub-brand will not be having a bespoke sports car anytime soon. The performance arm of the Volkswagen Group’s Spanish brand will focus on SUVs, Cupra CEO Luca de Meo told Autocar.

“You want roadsters, two-seaters, cabrios? This is a typical perspective from your (British) market. We don’t get that question from other markets… sometimes from Germans,” the Seat president said, drawing attention to the SUV.

“SUVs are called sports utility vehicles because they represent a new concept of sportiness. These kinds of things, SUVs with a coupe look, this is what for us was the two-door – an impractical coupe you could barely fit in, but it was fast, the handling was amazing because of a low centre of gravity etc. These things are gone,” he explained.

The 52-year old Italian – who is reported to be a target of Renault to be its next CEO – told the UK mag that the argument about building a sports car is an emotional one, not a rational one, for now.

“I cannot afford to drop a few hundred million on something where I sell 15,000 cars at a loss just for the sake of doing a sports car. When I have some resources, I can tell you we have a lot of creativity, but right now this is not a priority. Seat sells 500,000 cars (a year). I do not have the luxury to do that sort of thing, although I do like it,” he elaborated.

It shouldn’t be a surprise what Cupra’s focus is on. Since the brand was floated in early 2018, its first three models were all SUVs. First was the Cupra Ateca (based on the Seat Ateca B-segment SUV), and then came the Formentor concept and the Tavascan concept you see here. The Formentor is set to debut as Cupra’s first standalone model next year, while the Tavascan – a full EV – is likely to surface as a production car in the next two years.

The Seat boss admitted that the original plan for Cupra was less ambitious. “I wanted to create a business around the motorsport division to protect it from my successor coming in and saying ‘Racing? We don’t need that’ and closing (it). I wanted to create a business around motorsport that can finance its operations. That was the initial idea. Then it became much bigger.”

GALLERY: Cupra Tavascan concept



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