Super SEAT Leon

SEAT Leon FR+, front, action
SEAT Leon FR+, front
SEAT Leon FR 2.0 TDI 184PS
SEAT Leon FR+, rear
SEAT Leon FR+, interior

NOWI don't know about you, but I like to be able to see the roof of cars behind me at night, just in case they have any lights hidden up there.

It would be all too easy for me to get caught out a couple of miles an hour over the limit in darkness, because I concentrate that much harder on what's around me.

But some recent cars fitted with auto-dipping rea rview mirrors make it impossible to see anything of the car behind except their lights and there is no switch to turn the auto dip off.

One such was the marvellous SEAT Leon FR, which drives like a dream and handles like a sporting thoroughbred.

Of course, it's based on the floorpan and drivetrain of the VW Golf - which is a excellent starting point - but it hits the bank balance far, far less when discounts are taken into the mix.

FR spec brings stiffer sporting suspension than lower order Leons and I thought at first that this would spoil the ride.

But although it is a little lumpy around town, on a 200 mile trip south and west over every conceivable type of road and surface, it was absolutely fine.

The road holding is marvellous in every conceivable situation, giving excellent safety along with marvellous, flat cornering.

And the handling, with the superb VW power steering system and a leather covered wheel, leaves nothing wanting whatsoever.

Power came from an excellent 1.4 TSI petrol turbo engine boasting an excellent 147bhp, and driving it felt like getting a 147 clearance on the snooker table.

It's smooth all the way through the rev range, with just enough sweet sound as the revs rise to leave me wanting more.

But there's little need to push it in real driving, since it pulls so well from low down.

To save fuel, it runs on two cylinders when under light load - a very clever piece of engineering.

There's plenty of urge in sixth, and third and fourth make marvellous overtaking gears. Economy got up to 41mpg in my hands, which is quite acceptable for such a quick car and it would be much better with a light right foot.

It's a good looking car from every angle and the interior is big enough for four adults to travel in complete comfort.

FAST FACTS

Price: £20,525

Mechanical: 147bhp, 1,395cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 7.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 57

Insurance Group: 20

C02 emissions: 114g/km

Bik rating: 19%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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