I first saw a clay model of the all-new SEAT Leon at their HQ in Barcelona about three-years ago, and to say we were under-whelmed is an understatement. It just didn’t look right; it was shown in the worst possible colour and was very unimpressive. It looked old before it even hit the market. Since that early viewing the design team have sharpened their pencils and re-styled it to be more appealing, and looking at the finished product they have done a pretty good job.
The previous Leon has become almost an icon that is driven and liked by young and old, male and female. Nobody feels ashamed, or embarrassed to be seen in one, either as a passenger or driver, it is sort of ‘cool’ to own one. The new car has lost a bit of that coolness’ and its design is more in keeping with other regular C-Hatches. Some may say it is now a duller than the current car and not as appealing, but having now lived with the Leon for over a week I can say that it has certainly grown on me, and I now feel it is every bit as young and fresh as the previous car. People do look at it and point, usually with admiration and having spoken to a few people who I have caught peering in through the window in the supermarket car park, they all seemed to like its styling and its new young fresh approach in this highly competitive sector of the market.
The interior on the FR model is very impressive with a high level of materials used. The fit and finish is as good as anything else on the market and almost up to German Premium quality. Everything you touch and feel in the car looks and feels good with no sharp edges anywhere, and the use of metal for the finishes is just enough to add a bit of luxury without overdoing it and making the interior look cheap or tacky. The on-board computer display which is directly in front of the driver within the speedometer binnacle is absolute quality. It has some really clever graphics that are accessed through a small black dial on the wiper stalk, which all adds a really nice touch, and until you see it makes it difficult to describe just how good it is.
The ride and handling is good, it feels safe and solid, sticking to the road when cornering as if it is on tracks, which makes it not only a good looking car, but a driver’s car too.
The car SEAT sent for us had the new 184ps TDI engine fitted to it, and because there are few around in Europe (none yet in the UK), they transported a Left hand drive factory car over from Spain for us to test. We have previously driven other engines including the 2.0-TDI 150ps, so is this new high-powered diesel worth the extra money?
Well the 184ps model produces 112 g/km of CO2, goes from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and has a top speed of 142mph. The official combined fuel consumption figure is 65.7mpg but we only managed to achieve 50.2 mpg on average, according to the on-board computer.
I have now driven both the 150ps and now the 184ps models, and the truth is there seems to be very little in the power when driving it in normal circumstances, so it seems pointless paying the extra £990 when the 150ps offers more than enough power. Other engines in the Leon range are: 1.2 TSI, 1.4 TSI, 1.8 TSI, 1.6 TDI and 2.0 TDI. Out of all of these the one I would recommend is the 1.6TDI as it offers everything you need, its economical, quick, quiet and has more than enough power.
Prices for the Leon start from £15,370. The car tested costs around £23,000.
Martin Ward, CAP Manufacturer Relationship Manager
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