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Seat: Leon estate to fill gap from ditched Exeo

Date: 16 August 2013   |   Author:

The new Seat Leon ST estate version of the Spanish firm's lower medium car will be tasked with fulfilling corporate needs as the largest core fleet model in the line-up when it arrives in the UK next January.

Larger than the outgoing Exeo ST, which was based on the previous-generation Audi A4, the new Leon estate's 587-litre boot manages to outpoint the Ford Mondeo Estate, also from the segment above the Leon, by 50 litres.

"The new Leon carries us further than the old car, and the estate is the extender in the range," Seat's UK boss Neil Williamson told BusinessCar, predicting that fleets will take around 80% of sales.

"The Exeo estate did a good job for us in the interim, but there is no current plan to replace that vehicle or return to the sector," he continued, claiming the firm hadn't seen any resistance from customers over the reduced breadth of range.

Williamson said the new Leon, which now has three-door, five-door and forthcoming estate models rather than the previous car's five-door only approach, has benefitted from a boost in residual values, leading to competitive operating costs.

"I'm delighted with where we are in whole-life cost terms. The residual value has been really good and we will be able to sustain that as the markets we're selling into won't give us any worries about sales channels," he continued.

"You get the RVs you deserve, so if you sell in the right channels you get strong RVs."

Williamson is looking at a longer-term target of a 3% market share, with the brand having recorded a 1.9% share in 2012.

"We've talked about 3% as an interim target for the UK and we will eat a chunk out of that this year; there is a following wind behind us," he said.

"The 3% is a personal target not an official one - it's what I think we could get to given the product range."

The launch of the Leon ST next January follows the three-door SC launched last month and the core five-door hatch that went on sale in March.

Seat has also returned to its original way of tagging its lowest-emitting models, backtracking on a previous decision to use an E-ecomotive branding and reverting to a straight Ecomotive for the low-CO2 110hp 1.6-litre diesel Leon expected to come next year with an emissions figure close to parent company VW's Golf Bluemotion at 85g/km.