SEAT Leon FR Sport

Estate

SEAT Leon FR Sport Estate, 2023, nose
SEAT Leon FR Sport Estate, 2023, front
SEAT Leon FR Sport Estate, 2023, rear
SEAT Leon FR Sport Estate, 2023, interior
SEAT Leon FR Sport Estate, 2023, display screen
SEAT Leon FR Sport Estate, 2023, rear seats
SEAT Leon FR Sport Estate, 2023, boot
SEAT Leon FR Sport Estate, 2023, engine
SEAT Leon FR Sport Estate, 2023, badge

YOU might buy a Spanish car but perhaps the last thing you would expect is to have to talk to it in Spanish to get the best from it.

But with the new SEAT Leon FR Sport Estate I had to say Hola, Hola - Spanish for hello or hi - to activate the voice control system.

My Leon was obviously a little homesick for Barcelona because as soon as it heard its native tongue it couldn't do enough for me.

"Hola, Hola my hands are cold" was met with "No problem warming hands in front right-hand side of the car."

Alternatively when my wife said the magic words - followed by her feet were cold - my disembodied new friend responded with "no problem, warming feet on the front left hand side of the car".

Lightening the mood I asked my Leon to tell me a joke and, like a trooper he offered: "I couldn't work out how to fasten my seatbelt, then it clicked."

And while all this might seem a little flippant the new Leon's minimalistic interior, almost devoid of knobs and buttons - except on the multi-function steering wheel - makes the voice activated system almost essential.

Virtually everything is now operated via the 10-inch touchscreen, so if you want to keep your eyes on the road it pays to use the voice activated system as much as possible.

There was a time when estate cars were big and bulky but the Leon estate with its tapering headlights, rakish roofline, assertive front and sleek rear is the epitome of style and elegance.

A sporting bias is in the DNA of every SEAT but if you opt for the FR Sport Estate version, as driven here, you get even more sporty touches including a lowered sports suspension, twin exhausts and 18-inch alloys.

And on the inside there are heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, microsuede upholstery with stitching matching the exterior colour of the car and distinctive wrapround lighting in a choice of colours covering the whole width of the dashboard and doors.

With mild hybrid technology power comes from a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a 48-volt starter generator - producing 150 ps - mated to a seven-speed automatic DSG gearbox. That's enough to give it a top speed of 135 miles per hour and brisk 0-62 mph acceleration time of 9.0- seconds.

There are paddles behind the steering wheel for more hands-on driving as well as a choice of four driving modes - eco, normal, sport and individual settings.

A new digital cockpit with a 10.25-inch high-resolution configurable driver instrument cluster allows you to change the display from conventional dials to a simple digital speed readout at the touch of a steering wheel button.

On the road the Leon is sharp yet smooth with seamless gear changes. Leave it in eco or normal and you benefit from the car's useful coasting feature which cuts in when you lift off the accelerator thereby saving fuel as the revs drop to zero. It's like briefly driving in neutral.

Lowering the suspension by 15mm means a firm yet comfortable ride with little or no body roll. And while the estate is a long car a tight turning circle means it's easy to manoeuvre and park, although a rear view camera would have been a bonus.

And with 620 litres of boot space and two thirds/one split rear seatbacks the estate is ideal for family holidays, swallowing up almost all you can throw at it.

Impressive full LED headlights ease the pressure of night driving while at the rear a band of red lights across the whole width of the car ensures you will be clearly visible.

Some features on the Leon are fussy, however, and don't work too well, including sliders at the base of the touch screen to operate the radio volume and temperature controls. Neither are illuminated so at night it's easy to mistake one for the other, deafening everyone while simply trying to turn up the heat.

FAST FACTS

SEAT Leon FR Sport Estate

Price: £32,120

Mechanical: 150 bhp, 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via seven speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 135 mph

0-62mph: 8.8 secs

Combined MPG: 44.1 - 48.7

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions: 132 g/km

Bik rating: 31%

Warranty: 3 yrs/60,000 miles

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