By Patrick James on 2017-10-22 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
SEAT Leon FR
Technology 2.0 TDI
SEAT has always relished being seen as the sporty arm of the VW empire.
The third generation of the Leon, a worthy challenger to the parent group's Golf, is no exception, with new styling, and significant revisions across the range.
There are three body styles: five-door hatchback, three-door SC, and ST estate.
The car uses the same platform as the Audi A3, Skoda Octavia and Golf itself, and is one of the most spacious cars in its class despite have a shorter wheelbase.
There is more passenger space and luggage capacity - an extra 39 litres in the boot and 14mm more head and rear knee room.
It does look sporty, particular the FR version driven here with its 15mm lower profile, wider bonnet, revised front bumper and wider, more prominent trapezoidal front grille and full LED headlights with daytime running, dedicated FR bumpers and FR-stamped aluminium door sills.
It also features independent rear suspension andstiffer springs and dampers for a more engaging drive, plussmart alloy wheels.
There are also a range of petrol and diesel engines, all offering good economy and low emissions. They include new 1.0 TSI engine and increased power for the 1.4 EcoTSI and 1.6 TDI units and the powerful, but frugal 2.0-litre unit in this car.
The latest model also offers a wide range of new technology including the wireless charger, traffic jam assist and traffic sign recognition. The electronic parking brake allows room for the phone charger to be situated on the central console.
The interior continues the sporty look with with neat flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel, bold dials, intuitive central control screen set in the centre of the dash and typically high quality and robust fittings and trim.
The dark interior is nicely offset with brushed satin trim. The multi-adjustable front sports seats are firm but comfortable. The touch screen allows control of connectivity, navigation and infotainment features, plus easy integration of multiple smartphones via Apple Car Play, Mirror Link and Google Android Auto.
Generous standard equipment list includes electric windows, air conditioning, remote central locking, touchscreen control, electric door mirrors plus on this model, multi-coloured interior ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, electric folding door mirrors, front sports seats.
Safety kit comprises a full range of airbags, assisted braking and stability control.
On this model the Drive Profile allows the driver to select driving modes: Normal, Sport, Eco plus an Individual option, depending on whether you are looking for economy of performance.
There is plenty of performance from the 184ps two-litre diesel engine. Right up there in hot hatch territory, it delivers sharp acceleration, hitting 60mph in 7.5 seconds, while the upgraded suspension means the car handles beautifully, particularly when pushed hard.
The slight downside is the ride is firm and suffers on lesser road surfaces.
The steering is sharp and the car feels nimble and poised whenever asked the question.
Economy is good with an official 62.8mpg looking nearer 52.8 in reality, while CO2 emissions of 118g/km means taxation and benefit in kind taxation won't break the bank.
Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox the refined diesel offers an engaging drive, whether pottering around, cruising on the motorway or having fun.
As a hatchback it is practical with folding rear seats increasing the standard luggage substantially. There are also plenty of cubbyholes and cup holders.
SEAT Leon FR Technology 2.0 TDI
Mechanical: 184bhp, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 142mph
0-62mph: 7.4 seconds
Combined MPG: 62.8
Insurance Group: 24
C02 emissions: 118g/km
Bik rating: 25%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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