The revised SEAT Leon is a real looker. But is that enough to appeal to car buyers? Our motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, reports.
I’ve just had a week testing the latest Leon – the hatchback from Spanish car-maker, SEAT. The up-to-the-minute model isn’t revolutionary in looks – more evolutionary. And that’s no bad thing at all. After all, why take a chisel to an already handsome face? The SEAT Leon’s VW brother is the Golf – and that, too, has been tweaked recently. I must say, the Leon is, to my eyes at least, the better-looking car. It’s cheaper to buy or lease, as well. I got behind the wheel of the five-door FR Technology model, fitted with a 1.4 TSI 150 petrol engine. What’s changed? Well, the lights and grille have been tweaked on all Leons, but the FR’s full LED headlights and dual tailpipes convey it has a bit more about it than the ‘standard’ car.
The manual six-speed gearbox is slick and precise in finding the cogs. The steering is sharp, too – much like the lines of the car. Muscle emanates from the 1.4 turbo petrol unit – a clever powerplant that shuts off fifty per cent of the cylinders, which helps save fuel. In this guise, the Leon is no hot-hatch, but it’s certainly a warm one, with 0-62mph achievable in 8.0 seconds and a top speed of 134mph. In addition, due to that cylinder cut-off mechanism, average fuel economy is 57.6mpg.
Ride and Handling
The Leon FR Technology’s decent dollop of power is matched with meticulous handling, and the car bonds to corners like adhesive. This is thanks to the FR’s larger 17-inch alloy wheels and sporty, lowered suspension. The only downside to this is a firm ride, which is noticeable on the blemished blacktop. Happily, comfy seats help make up for it, and they’re great at keeping you supported when entering corners hard.
The Leon’s cabin is well-considered, with lashings of room in the front and back. Neat touches, such as piano black trim, an electric handbrake and a touchscreen system make the interior feel classier than the previous model. This new iPad-like media system gets rid of most of the buttons that used to be in the Leon, tidying the dashboard up no end. Alas, constantly having to search for a function on the touchscreen can prove a little distracting at times. The Leon FR gets additional kit shoehorned into it as well, including sat-nav; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; cruise control; rear parking sensors and dual-zone climate control. What’s more, the boot is respectable, too, with a cargo capacity of 380 litres. It’s not the biggest, but it’s the same at the VW Golf’s – and better than the Ford Focus’ 316 litres.
The SEAT Leon has always looked appealing – and now it’s even classier. The FR has perhaps sacrificed some of its athletic images for this move upmarket, but, don’t get me wrong, the car is still nattily dressed. It’s certainly less conservative than a Golf or a Focus and, into the bargain, you get a lot of car for your money. Furthermore, the 1.4 TSI 150 engine offers a good hike in clout over lesser petrol-powered Leons, while being quicker off the line and cheaper to buy than the 150ps diesel model.
To check out the new 2017 Leon, visit us online, or in person, at Perrys Aylesbury SEAT today.
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Sharp-looking √
- Economical √
- Performance √
- Kit √
- Firm ride X
Fast Facts (Leon FR Technology 1.4 EcoTSI 150PS – as tested)
- Max speed: 134 mph
- 0-62 mph: 8.0 secs
- Combined mpg: 57.6
- Engine layout: 1395cc four-cylinder petrol turbo
- Max. power (PS): 150
- CO2: 114 g/km
- Price: £21,350