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One of the cars stealing the limelight at this year’s Geneva Motor Show is the new SEAT Leon SC – a striking three-door sports coupe that’s set to take the European market by storm when it’s released later this year.
Redesigned from the A-pillars back, the SEAT Leon SC is much more than just a three-door version of the five-door Leon hatchback.
Boasting a shorter wheelbase, new three-quarter rear windows and advancements in weight reduction materials, the new SEAT Leon SC is 110kg lighter than the second-generation Leon and 20kg lighter than the new five-door Leon, making it the lightest vehicle in its class.
But don’t be fooled by its sleek, sporty design - the new SEAT Leon SC still offers the same 380-litre boot capacity as its five-door sibling, blending everyday usability with stunning coupe good looks.
The man behind the Leon SC’s stunning new design is SEAT’s Director of Design Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos.
Renowned for his excellent attention to detail, stunning designs and incredible automotive knowledge, Mesonero-Romanos is the brains behind the new-look Leon family, which by the end of 2013, will comprise of a five-door hatchback, three-door SC and ST estate.
But with hundreds of cars on display at the Geneva Motor Show, how do you even go about designing a car that will catch the eye (and the affection) of the British public?
“The design process begins with the car’s proportions – the length, width and height” explains Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos.
“The proportions are like the skeleton and once you have these, you can start to design the cover”.
The new SEAT Leon SC certainly breaks new ground when it comes to proportions. The wheelbase has been shortened by 35 mm allowing for greater agility, while the expansive rear windscreen is 19 degrees more inclined than the 5-door model, emphasising the Leon SC’s sporty and powerful character.
“It’s more muscular, tighter and characterful”.
So where does Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos get his inspiration?
“I always start by looking at the human body and in particular, the human face. How can I implement the human face into the car?”
He picks up a magazine to demonstrate his point.
“The look of an athlete before the start of a race is fixed and determined - that is the look I wanted to give the Leon SC”.
And if you look at the SEAT Leon SC, you can actually see its face. Its eyes are the lights - sleek, focused and determined. Its nose is the grille – strong and distinctive. Its lower air intake is the mouth – stable and dynamic.
“If I could describe Leon SC’s personality it would be self confident. It’s a car that knows what she wants, is focused and is self assured”
At the front, the Leon SC’s simple, clean lines – also known as the ‘blisters’- have been designed to make the car look like its moving even when its static.
The lines also point towards the car’s front grille and the new-look SEAT logo, a key component in SEAT’s new design language.
“For the SEAT Leon SC we had a blank sheet of paper but inspiration doesn’t come by miracle, it’s a lot of hard work. A designer needs to be open and curious to what’s going on around you and how people live.”
Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, however, stands up to criticism that the Leon SC’s design looks very similar to rival models such as the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf.
“It’s a normal reaction for people to feel that some cars look the same. As designers we have some constraints in terms of proportions, such as the air intakes and the lamps, and that can sometimes make it difficult to get away from each other.”
“For designers, it’s all about the freedom of perfection. How can I make something better? How can I make a car emotional? Like humans, we all share the same architecture – two eyes, a nose, a mouth – but no two faces are exactly the same. Its the same about cars”
The new SEAT Leon SC will be available from July 2013, with order books opening in April.
Nationwide Vehicle Contracts would like to thank SEAT and Alejandro Mesonero-Romano for taking time out of his busy Geneva schedule to chat to us about the SEAT Leon SC.