TROLLING around dealers looking for a car for number two daughter proved to be a lot of fun in the SEAT Leon ST.
I must have covered a couple of hundred miles over three weekends to check over likely cars either she or I had found and the Leon was a marvellous companion.
She had decided she wanted to move on from old bangers and buy something better. She's on the road two hours every day so she wanted something comfortable with a bit more performance than her 145,000 mile Honda Jazz.
We had trouble with some dealers because they no longer take credit cards after the government stopped them adding the bank charges to their prices.
But we found one who was prepared to compromise and now she enjoys her driving again in a black 2009 Vauxhall Astra 1.6 with just 32,000 miles on the clock.
The Leon ST estate was fitted with the latest 115bhp version of the VW group 1.6 TDI diesel driving through the superb but pricey DSG automatic gearbox.
It really is just about the best automatic on the market and suits the diesel engine to a tee, giving a 0 to 60mph time of 10.5 seconds and very good urge in the mid-range.
It does run out of puff at the very top end but most owners are unlikely to push it as hard as I did.
The TDI is reasonably smooth and quiet and will trickle along at low revs in the higher gears and the wonderfully quick gear changes are a delight.
The gearbox has manual and sport settings as well as normal drive. Sport makes everything more immediate, but engine revs are higher for any given speed, thus affecting economy.
Expect a real economy of around 45-55 miles per gallon with a fairly gentle right foot on the loud pedal.
The ride is a little lumpy at low speeds in town, but smoothes out beautifully out in the country, even over rough surfaces.
Of course, the Leon is based on the Golf, but actually doesn't feel much like it. It's fantastically agile through the corners, with virtually no roll and huge grip even in the wet.
It's also beautifully poised and well balanced through the corners helped by the excellent VW group steering, which has loads of feel at all times.
The standard stop/start works very well, and I also liked the electric parking brake, which comes on automatically when the car stops and goes off again as soon as the accelerator is pressed.
Inside, the binnacle is excellent, with all the information needed right in front of the driver and lovely subdued red illumination at night.
A big central touch screen works well, the front seats are very comfortable with good adjustment and there's good rear legroom plus a big wide boot with a security cover.