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Click on the images to view the 2009 SEAT Leon (below right) and Altea (above) in high resolution

For some time now, it has seemed like the badges on cars are getting bigger and bigger. SEAT has certainly played its part in this trend, but the automaker's S badge is getting downsized again on the latest Leon and Altea.

The badges are part of mild facelift packages being given to the two SEAT models, which also get revised grilles, lamps and a tailgate with full-width glass. Supposedly steered by SEAT's new "Arrow" design language, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference visually, although its easier to see changes inside where there is an updated cabin.

Thankfully, SEAT has also squeezed in some new tech. Ten different engines – five gas and five diesel – are on offer, including some common-rail diesels, and all are available with parent Volkswagen's seven-speed DSG hooked up to paddles on the back of the steering wheel. There's also a new differential called XDS, which works with the traction and stability control systems, a development that should help the hot versions of the Leon counteract the enormous torque steer we encountered when driving the outgoing Leon Cupra last year.

The new Leon and the Altea, a minivan/wagon derivative of a hatchback (itself with long-wheelbase and Freetrack softroader versions), will debut alongside the old-is-new-again Exeo ST at SEAT's Geneva Motor Show booth next month. In the meantime, if you're just itching to know more, details are in the press release after the jump and photos in the gallery below.


SEAT is presenting the new 2009 León and Altea models

* The front and rear ends carry identity traits of the new design
Greater driving comfort and safety with the XDS system
Diesel engines with common rail technology

Taking place from 5 to 15 March, 2009, the Geneva Motor Show is the backdrop chosen by SEAT to showcase the new 2009 León and Altea models for the first time. With these models, the Spanish brand's intermediate range has undergone a considerable evolution, with their identity traits visible on the front and rear of all the body styles, and a completely updated engine range including common rail Diesel variants. All these novelties combine with an outstanding level of equipment, with special emphasis on comfort and safety elements.

The same as on the fourth generation Ibiza and the new Exeo, the Arrow Design concept defines the exterior looks of the 2009 León and Altea. They both clearly reflect the silhouettes of the previous models, but contain interesting new design details.

Now with smoother, more elegant lines, prominent elements are a new grille with a smaller SEAT logo and more stylised chrome surround, larger headlights, newly designed door mirrors and modern wheel rims; while at the rear, the window is larger for greater visibility, and the hatch and light clusters have also been modified, among others. In the interior, modifications have been made to the instrument panel, central console and door panel trim and materials, resulting in a modern, ergonomic passenger compartment.

Maximum traction capacity with the XDS system

The addition of the XDS system to the new 2009 SEAT León has led to a substantial increase in both driving comfort and safety. This electronic system works together with ESP as a self-blocking differential, improving the car's performance in situations where traction is lost by braking the wheel that loses surface grip.

This novelty on the company's new car combines with the brand's characteristic Agile Chassis concept, providing efficient driving capacity in any situation.

New engines and the arrival of common rail technology

The broad engine range on the new León, Altea and Altea XL models includes a total of 10 different choices - five petrol and five Diesel. They have all undergone a significant evolution in every aspect, with special mention to performance and a reduction in fuel consumption figures and emissions levels.

The powerful 211 hp 2.0 TSI engine steals the spotlight in the petrol engine range, while the great novelty among the Diesel choices is the arrival of common rail technology to the 170 hp 2.0 TDI engine. Furthermore, all the versions equipped with the DSG automatic sequential gearbox, now also available on the seven-speed 160 hp 1.8 TSI, feature shift paddles on the steering wheel.

More equipment to choose from

With the arrival of the 2009 versions, the equipment list has been unified on the SEAT León, Altea and Altea XL models. All three are now equipped with the same standard elements on the Reference, Style and Sport versions. In addition, the León has added the sportier FR version to its range.

The company's new vehicles feature a complete equipment list. Besides the XDS system, exclusive to the new León 2009, other outstanding additions include Hill Hold Control, dual xenon headlights with AFS and daytime driving lights, a new climatiser and new audio equipment, cornering foglights, front and rear parking sensors and an optical parking system displayed on the new navigation system.

Besides, all the versions feature new upholstery, with the possibility of choosing black leather, and a new cognac colour leather for the León units. A further choice on the FR versions is a combination of black fabric (for the seat sides) with red or silver Alcantara down the middle.

And finally, in terms of active safety measures, the new 2009 León and Altea include all the electronic assistance devices. ABS + TCS and ESP with EBA emergency braking will be available as standard across the entire range.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      The seats are nice (bet they are optional). The dash is of course awful. This is the reality of European cars, not the dreamworld where people point at $27,000 small cars and say "why can't our Cobalts and Focuses be like that"?
        • 6 Years Ago
        'And finally, in terms of active safety measures, the new 2009 León and Altea include all the electronic assistance devices. ABS + TCS and ESP with EBA emergency braking will be available as standard across the entire range'

        What was you saying about ABS not being standard.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You'd have a hard time to buy a car in Europe without an ABS. Perhaps Perodua Kelisa or Lada. Even the cheapest Skoda Fabia has ABS as standard.

        Current generation of Leons has ABS standard in all trims. Which is not true about the Cobalt - ABS is only an option on a basic version.

        A 1999 Euro Mazda Protege (323) had ABS standard in all trims and 1.8 liter engines got TCS as standard too.

        When it comes to modern active-safety features, Europe is years ahead of the US.
        • 6 Years Ago
        ESP will be standard on all cars in the US soon. It has been mandated by law. The article says ABS will be available on the SEATs, not standard.

        I own a VAG product, don't try to snow me about quality. My $45K Audi says otherwise, this car at 1/3rd the price doesn't stand a chance.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Theyre actually stock, SEAT's tradition used to be stock recaros in case you didnt know, and this is the cheap one, cupras and leon's are amazing, Leon has the 2.0 turbo, no US car of its size has nothing on them
        • 6 Years Ago
        Years ahead? Except GM made ABS standard on the Cavalier in the early 90s. But other than that, years ahead.
        • 6 Years Ago
        To me, "available" means optional. We'll just have to see what the truth is when the order sheets come.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That's what a small, AFFORDABLE car should look like, inside and out.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Looks like an Impreza with a different side character line, and an equally dorky, different front end.

      more jelly-beans on the roads of the world...
        • 6 Years Ago
        No. This Leon's generation has been around 2 years longer than the Impreza. If there's any resemblance, then the Impreza looks like the Leon.

        And, living in a country where I can see both on the streets I can say that it looks nothing like a Subaru.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wow. Those are some hot-looking hatches! This would be a nice budget brand for the US, and VW can reposition itself between SEAT and Audi as a semi-premium brand.