2013 SEAT Leon review
By Ian Lynas, 02nd January 2013
The new SEAT Leon combines Spanish design with German engineering: one which benefits greatly from the employment of the new VW Group platform, as featured in the new Audi A3 and VW Golf.
All at SEAT can be proud of their new offering - one which could steal some customers away from A3 and Golf, as well as a much better buy than anything that Ford or Vauxhall can offer.
During my two days in Spain, based in Malaga, I was struck by the build quality. The people behind this new car state quite strongly that this is the best they have ever produced and I would not disagree.
Leon has been a very popular vehicle in our market, second in terms of sales to the Ibiza and indeed there was a period in the history of the outgoing car when it topped the SEAT sales charts in the UK.
The five-door version, which will reach showrooms early this year is the first in a family of models; the SC will arrive in June followed by the ST at the end of 2013.
A comprehensive range of engines will be available from launch, three petrol and three diesels with outputs ranging from 105 to 184PS - something for everyone. The range-topping 2.0 TDI FR can get you from rest to 62mph in a mere 7.5 seconds and still deliver 65.7mpg. However, another surprise is the emission rating: just 112g/km.
I sampled two diesel variants - 1.6 and two-litre with respective power outputs of 105 and 150PS and the amazing 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with 140PS. The latter is going to challenge the smaller diesel units and you really have to try this car for yourself. This engine has established quite a following.in other VW Group products.
My driving partner on this occasion was Ulster-born Simon McBride of Parkers and we both recalled 1.4 litre engines of old - dull and uninspiring. This was not the case with this unit - it was brisk with bags of power. With the ever increasing cost of fuel and in particular diesel, this engine offers similar levels of economy.
Trim levels are the usual from SEAT; S, SE and FR and even the entry level S trim provides a very acceptable level of standard equipment. Air conditioning, remote central locking, SEAT Easy Connect five inch touch screen media system, to name but a few.
SEAT Drive Profile is standard on FR variants. This permits adjustment of steering and throttle feel in four ways, Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual. Select Sport mode and backlighting changes from white to red. SEAT XDS electronic differential is standard on versions SE and above and is yet another useful handling aid.
I found the handling and comfort levels of a good standard and the suspension setup varies with power and trim.
Not only does the customer have a choice in equipment levels but also the opportunity to select the ride and handling they prefer. The latest Leon features a longer wheelbase and this has a two way benefit for driver and passengers, improved interior and boot space - the latter is up by 39 litres.
The cabin is a big improvement over the outgoing model, quality is the word and the instrumentation is clear and easy to read.
With good residual values predicted and prices to start from £15,670 the latest Leon will become quite a challenger.