The good news is that despite the Leon SC being properly visually distinguished from the five-door hatchback, and featuring sports-shaped front seats as standard, it comes with a £300 price cut model-for-model.
The Leon SC is far from merely a three-door version of the five-door hatchback – it is a true ‘Sports Coupé’, with an exterior redesigned from the A-pillars back. With a lower roofline, a more steeply raked rear screen and a redesigned tailgate, the Leon SC is a beautifully designed car.
Special attention has been given to the rear blisters over the wheel arches, which are more pronounced than those of the five-door Leon, giving the car a wider stance. The shape of the rear side glass has been altered to shift the visual weight of the car downwards, too, giving it a ‘hunkered down’ aesthetic in profile.
The Leon SC is 35 mm shorter than the five-door, making it sportier both to the eyes and on the road, with that length taken out of the wheelbase.
But the car loses very little by way of practicality compared to the five-door, with a large boot of exactly the same 380-litre capacity, and more than enough rear leg- and headroom for adults. It has a dozen cubby holes and five closed containers for storage.
SEAT Head of Design Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos said: “We have given the three-door Leon SC a highly distinctive character – just deleting two doors would not have been enough for us. That is why we opted for the shorter wheelbase – although it is only 35 millimetres, the visual effect is very powerful. The result is a big difference in the expression of dynamics. The SEAT design language has been perfected in the new Leon.”
Standard specification is generous, with all S models featuring air conditioning, Bluetooth phone preparation and audio streaming, a six-speaker mp3-compatible stereo including colour touchscreen display, seven airbags, anti-lock braking, traction control and, exclusively to the SC, sports-shaped front seats.
SE trim adds a leather wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, ambient interior lighting, chrome dashboard detailing, front fog lights with cornering function, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, SEAT’s XDS electronic differential lock system, hill hold control and again, sports-shaped front seats.
As per the five-door range, FR trim is the pinnacle of the Leon SC at launch, available only with the more powerful engines in the line-up. FR trim gives buyers access to SEAT Drive Profile, which alters the driving characteristics of the car through three modes, plus an individual mode which drivers can use to personalise their settings.
FR cars also get 17-inch alloy wheels, redesigned front and rear bumpers, twin chrome exhaust pipes, dark tinted windows, unique FR sports seats, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, LED tail lights, and sports suspension, lowered by 15 mm.
Plus, buyers of SE and FR cars are able to specify full-LED headlamps for the Leon SC, giving them access to light technology that’s truly cutting edge. The Leon model remains the only family hatchback to offer full-LED headlights, which is superior to standard halogen or xenon units on a variety of fronts; LED headlights offer a light that’s very close to natural daylight, while consuming very little power and boasting an operation life far higher than conventional headlamps.
A series of powerful and efficient TDI and TSI engines, all of which feature direct injection and turbocharging, power the Leon SC from launch.
The 1.6 TDI 103bhp has an average fuel consumption of just 74.3 mpg and a CO2 figure of just 99 g/km, while the powerful 2.0 TDI 148bhp, which has a whopping 320 Nm, returns little less: 68.9 mpg and just 106 g/km.
“The Leon SC is the embodiment of everything that SEAT is today: dynamic, young-spirited and design-driven,” says SEAT UK Managing Director Neil Williamson. “It’s a car born out of sheer enthusiasm – useable, relevant technology like its full-LED headlights are matched to stunning design and the best cabin quality that SEAT has ever offered in a family hatchback. It’s a real ground-breaker in the segment and we’re convinced it will be a huge success.”
The Leon SC, which will begin appearing in UK showrooms in July, is the second member of the Leon family, and precedes the introduction of an ST estate, due before the turn of 2014.
This makes the SC a pioneer for SEAT – it is the first time that the Leon has ever moved away from the five-door hatchback format; the Leon Mk I (1998 – 2005) and the Mk II (2005 – 2012) were only ever five-door only.
“The Leon is a key model for us,” adds Neil Williamson. “It trails only the very popular Ibiza in terms of outright sales in the UK, and in 2012 enjoyed its second best year ever, despite being in its final year of production.
“With the introduction of this SC and, shortly, the practical ST estate – echoing the Ibiza model family – we expect Leon sales to take a significant upward trajectory.”