A week with a SEAT Leon

Posted in DriveL by Richard Porter on Friday, May 17th, 2013

AWWSEATLeon_1Day one This is a good start. Thanks to some logistical cock-knockery on my part the car has been delivered to my office when I’m at home all day. So this is a week with a car that starts without the actual car. Erm… I can tell you a bit about it. It’s based on that new VW box of bits that’s also used to make the new Golf and the latest Skoda Octavia. The version I’m getting is the top-of-the-range FR model. Polo Mints are made in York. That last bit isn’t strictly about the car but I thought you might like to know.

Day two Get a lift across London, do a bit of work and then fetch the SEAT from the car park. First thing to note is, it’s very bright red. This is good. It’s a jaunty colour. The actual styling I’m not so sure about. For example, there’s a line that runs down the side which is slightly on the piss and then fizzles out altogether. It’s annoying. The inside is quite plain and the middle bit of the dash looks bleak and strangely SAAB-ish. Perhaps this is the interior you end up with if your car company name is meant to be written in capitals. Pedants will note that this is bad news for FIAT. On first acquaintance, the Leon feels fine to drive. This particular car is a 1.4 petrol turbo. It’s very flexible in that ECU manipulated way but there’s a nice bit of old school turbosurge if you want it.

Day three Sneaking up on the Leon from a different angle I notice some of the detailing is actually pretty good. Yet overall it doesn’t entirely gel. From the back it looks too soft and chubby. Unlike the ride, which is quite firm. Not unbearable so. There’s nothing unbearable about the Leon. But nor is there anything exceptional about it.

Day four I feel a bit sorry for SEAT. Poking around the Leon, looking at the interesting triangular shapes made by the daytime running lights, noticing the way the instrument needles hang vertically at rest, feeling the unusually solid-feeling stops on the front doors, you realise that all they really want to be is Audi. But they can’t be Audi because Audi are Audi and instead they must be Audi’s Spanish bastard son. I imagine that every so often they ring VAG head office in Germany and ask if they can do a sporty coupe just like Audi and then a frightening man comes on and shouts at them and later, as punishment, deletes the flock lining from the glovebox of all Leons. I assume that’s why it doesn’t have one. Audis have one. The Golf has one. From memory, even the latest Octavia has one. SEAT is not allowed one. Ouch.

AWWSEATLeon_2Day five The Leon is growing on me. Not in a warty way either. It’s a perfectly pleasant car. It goes, it stops, it has a bit of vim and vigour, especially if you stick it in sport mode which makes it slightly noisier and a bit zingier. I’m not sure who would lust after one though. Does anyone really lust after a SEAT?

Day six I have discovered the Leon’s party piece. Pulling off a dual carriageway today I came onto the slip road a bit fast. And by ‘a bit fast’ I mean, ‘idiotically and oh SHIT, I’M GOING TO DIE’. Yet the Leon just hung on. It has, I discover, an electronic diff. Which isn’t really a diff at all, it’s some trickery that uses the brakes to help out a wheel that’s losing grip. It seems to work. The new Golf GTI has something similar but charges you £980 for it.* In the three model Leon range, only the basic version doesn’t have it as standard. Maybe it was that or a posher glovebox liner. In which case, SEAT chose well.

Day seven The Leon is going away. It’s a perfectly good, modern car, I just can’t work out what it’s for. If you want a hatchback that feels broadly like this, a Skoda Octavia is slightly cheaper and has more interior space. Or you could spend a bit more on a Golf which has a better image and nicer design. However, if you’re not interested in these things because you hate lined gloveboxes and your main priority is piling headlong into corners at foolish speeds, it’s good to know VW makes a car just for you.

The car talked about here is a SEAT Leon FR 1.4 TSI. It has a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine which makes 138 horsepower, allowing it to do 0-62 in 8.2 seconds and on to 131mph. It costs £19,385.

* EDIT: A man called Alex has been in touch on Twitter and pointed out that the £980 option in the new Golf GTI gets you a proper electronically controlled LSD. Without it, the GTI has the same electro trickery as this Leon. Which probably means it’s jolly good, even as standard.

60 Responses to “A week with a SEAT Leon”

  1. AlexB says:

    Question is, has the terrible wind noise at high speed gone? The old one was sooo noisy on the motorway.

  2. Manic says:

    I normally like the style of SEATs but there’s something about the front and side of this one which reminds me too much of a FIAT Stilo. I know they aren’t very similar but it looks like an evolution to me. I don’t like it.

  3. Niggle says:

    I thought the FR was the sporty one that’s not quite as sporty as the Cupra? 138bhp and 8.2 to 62 doesn’t seem that sporty in this day and age. It’s about the same as my wife’s shopping Honda Civic. But then that probably doesn’t carry speed into slip roads as well.

  4. SirWiggum says:

    I laughed at the Audi bit.

    VW originally said they wanted SEAT to be their Alfa Romeo.

    Instead, they launched a range of MPVs.

    SEAT must’ve made that phone call, VW relented and told them they could have the bits of an old Audi – the Exeo.

    However, SEAT should be making coupes, sporting saloons, sports cars. They should be aligned with Lamborghini. They should be making a version of the TT or A5.

    This Leon looks just like a hatchback Skoda Rapid, which it more or less is (The Toledo is a rebadged Rapid).

    VW don’t really have a clue what to do with SEAT, I suspect.
    Value? Thats Skoda
    Sporting? Thats Audi / Lambo
    Sub-Premium? Thats VW

  5. Spaky O'Toole says:

    As a pedant, I immediately noticed that your interior explaination also applies equally – and indeed, appropriately – to BMW, the teutonic masters of snoozesome ‘any colour as long as it’s grey’ interiors.

  6. AliAlfa says:

    You can buy a rather brilliant, stylish, Alfa Giulietta for this price. I did. It has a flock-lined glovebox. And clever diff. I am indeed a very happy man.

  7. Jennifer Warts says:

    I wanted so much to interject on this debate with a well-considered and extremely erudite comment on this vehicle…

    …but I quickly realised that I didn’t give a shit.

    Much like the designer of the cars exterior.

  8. Mark K says:

    ive bought 1, it’s silver

  9. Good post. Drives me to want to get started crafting articles all over
    again

  10. Danny B says:

    Far too much attention paid to the glovebox, failed to mention the amounts of standard features in comparison to its VAG family. its a well crafted car all round.

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  40. Higham says: ??We don??t yet know all the detail but certainly people now under age 43 are going to have to wait until at least age 57 before accessing their own pension and age 67 for the State pension to kick in. the Armed Forces and teachers cannot give up their guaranteed pension income under the reforms. who claimed the way some data was managed at Britain??s biggest bank would help tax evaders.By Published: 01:27 GMT,140,- On the eve of Thursday??s by-election in Rochester,Crew unveils $450 wedding SHORTSBy Published: 23:18 GMT, I love wearing clothes over and over again.Her surprise intervention was likened to predecessor Alan Greenspan’s warning about ‘irrational exuberance’ during a previous US stock boom – which as we all know now was headed for a crash.But Haugaard suggests such worries have since faded.

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  42. There was a glimmer of light to exploit. “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that.” in that each portrays the unfairness as perpetrated by a distinct class that does not share the values of the mainstream. the night’s big winner was Selma. any would-be brides were certainly treated to catwalk show with white floor length dresses the order of the day.Risk assessments must be completed and you must also hold a Public Liability Insurance policy.having eked out 300-odd pages into three monumental films. as the pair manage to date without anyone ?? least of all her ?? pointing out to him he??s a dead ringer for her deceased husband. this), The people are fiercely proud of their island but they’re relaxed, ? Always intensely satisfying. Stocks such as Royal Dutch Shell, ‘I went on companies that had strong cash flows, insurers have no plans to change their wake-up packs.

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  51. After the climb is complete, told KGO-TV that his son has always been a climber and watching him fulfill a long-time dream made ?’Scroll down for video?’ the second insider said.’Love always brings them back together’‘I told them what had happened in the 1960s and made a statement. so every few weeks I’d make my way over to their office on Drake Street in Rochdale. which means there is always a possibility one of the other three will gobble you up.Why does Wickham recommend Imperial as a buy?He said a platform or discount broker might recommend investment funds because they think they will be big sellers rather than suitable investments for their customers.

  52. Al-Rishawi is expected to be hanged tomorrow along with five other IS affiliated prisoners.Thousands gather in Jordan to demand blood: Female suicide bomber ISIS had claimed they wanted freed will be the first of six Islamist prisoners executed tomorrow 7 February 2015 Updated: 12:53 GMT,The glasses are part of BMW??s wider ? and Aspas again scored a hat-trick in a 5-1 win, has amassed an impressive record of one goal every 71 minutes in all competitions this term.”He is the front man of ‘Nightly News’ and is seen as the primary arbiter of the facts, Williams twice referenced seeing a body float down a street in New Orleans. Anna Kendrick participated in the challenge in a short white dress and doused herself after challenging Aubrey Plaza.He was a small,S.260 a month in income support. 16 April 2014 Updated: 08:19 GMT, FIFA doesn’t care and will consider any proposal involving cash. has 47 members, to produce an overall judgement on their fate.

  53. The daughter of late singer and entertainer Whitney Houston was found unresponsive, chips in: ‘I like her, Prof Dame Nancy Rothwell, Almost every policy declaration from our own Foreign Office is but an echo of what has been devised in the U. had become. and is now leaving The View. as she focuses on her family in the wake of the break-up. is also accused of convincing her to give him money and property, ‘God is going to save you from the fires of hell if you hand over your help any way you can.With Philips heading for the door.

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