Seat as most will know is part of the Volkswagen Group. Seat however while benefiting from VW’s undoubted engineering expertise produce a very different car to the mainstay offerings from VW.
Seat offer cars with a great flair in their style and a more sporting theme, and so it is with the Leon. The model on test is the top of the line FR.
For the new 2013 range there is a 12 model line-up with three trim levels, Reference, Style and FR, with a range of petrol and diesel engines. Entry to the new Leon range starts at €18,995.
Undoubtedly the new Seat Leon is one of the smartest looking small cars on the road today. It has that real touch of Mediterranean flair making it stand out from the crowd.
It may be based on the Golf platform and have Golf running gear but it looks way better!
Initially I was less impressed by the cabin. I feel the large swathe of black dashboard plastic looks a bit bland. That said the instruments are laid out in a style more akin to a sports coupe than a 5-door hatch with white on black, and some nice chrome detailing, and sports seats with red stitching which adds to the sporty theme. It all feels very well put together with a feel of quality evident throughout.
The top spec FR model features Aluminium FR door step in the front doors, auto light sensors, rain sensors, auto dimming rear-view mirrors, rear park distance control, dark tinted windows, SEAT Drive Profile which adjusts steering response, throttle response, multicolour ambient light (red for sport, white for comfort) in door panels, leather FR steering wheel, gear knob & hand brake in leather, Dynamic 17” alloy wheels, a visible chromed double exhaust pipe, FR suspension, full front and rear LED lights with LED daytime running lights, electric heated and folded exterior mirrors with parking position, 2 Zone Climate control, integrated Bluetooth, tyre preassure monitoring, and a host of safety features too numerous to mention.
I particularly liked the beautifully integrated touch screen which allows you control a host of functions including the satellite navigation, audio system, (MP3 compatible, with USB and AUX ports) and Bluetooth phone.This diesel also features Start/Stop technology further reducing emissions and fuel consumption. Accommodation both front and rear is good for a car in this class and the boot is a decent size too.
The 4 cylinder 2.0 litre diesel produces 150 bhp and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
Overall performance is pretty good. In practice it goes just fine and proves lively enough. On the economy front it scores highly burning on average just 6.3 litres per 100km on my test. Road tax is €190.00
The new Seat Leon is competing in a very competitive segment dominated by the likes of the stunning new Ford Focus, Opel Astra and indeed their own VW Group car the excellent new Golf to name but a few.
Nevertheless it can hold it’s own, and while it is never going to outsell either of the above it will continue to carve a niche for itself in the Irish market with those who seek an excellent and versatile all-rounder with good levels of specification and a sense of real design flair in the style.
The Seat Leon 2.0 Tdi FR costs €27,325