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Seat: Range expansion key to Leon's future

Date: 04 December 2012   |   Author:

The new Seat Leon

The move to a range of three Leon models, with a three-door and an estate all coming by the end of next year, will drive growth for Seat's lower medium competitor, as well as helping re-establish the core five-door model, according to the firm's UK boss Peter Wyhinny.

The new car is styled to look like a five-door, rather than the previous model where the door handles were designed into the window surround to hide them, giving it a sportier look but fooling some customers.

"The door handles aren't hidden like they were in the last one because that car was trying to do two jobs," Wyhinny told BusinessCar.

"It did mean a number of people didn't put us on their shopping list as they didn't think it was a five-door. People looked at Leon and saw a three-door so wrote us off.

"The new five-door blatantly looks like a five-door and then we will have a three-door that doesn't look like a five-door with the rear doors welded."

The five-door goes on sale next March, with a more sporty-styled three-door following ahead of the ST estate model during 2013.

"There will be a significant growth of footprint and we'll see significant growth," said Wyhinny, who has been tasked with taking Seat's market share over the 3% mark, which is targeted for 2015.

"Once you see the trio you will get how they fit together."

The Leon won't have an ultra-low emission E-ecomotive version from launch, although Wyhinny confirmed one will follow "at some point".

He refused to be drawn on whether that car would match the 85g/km of the new VW Golf Bluemotion, although that would seem logical.

Seat is also looking for a boost in volume next year fuelled by the new Toledo saloon model coming in early 2013.

"It's a bit of an unknown quantity. If you look back at previous generations of Toledo we were doing 3500 but that was in a time where the Leon didn't exist," said Wyhinny.

"The role it has to play is towards the bottom of the spectrum versus Korean competition; a bit more rational for people that need more space."

He described the car as "welcome and supplementary volume for us but we haven't planned to change the world with it".

The business car market for the Toledo will be aimed more at essential user fleets.

"Leon and Toledo are things that will underpin the step change to carry the brand through to the next phase," Wyhinny concluded.

"We haven't maxed-out anywhere - I don't look at any area of the business and wonder how to make the next step."

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