Friday 20 October 2017

New Leon is is fab, even disguised as a load lugging station wagon

The Leon FR is something rather special
The Leon FR is something rather special

By Philip Hedderman

Finally, they’ve gone and done it. For years SEAT have been promising a mix of fiery Spanish passion and clinical German precision.

It made brilliant advertising copy but in reality that mantra has been a real hit and miss.

Yes, they had a massive hit with the mega Cupra but a total miss with the mid-range ‘bread and butter’ models like the Leon.

Well, no more as the dust covers come off the mighty FR which looks absolutely awesome – even in station wagon mode.

Now, to the untrained eye one could be forgiven for thinking that this is indeed the golden child with load-lugging capacity.

The crisp flowing lines, eye-catching colours (our test car came in a stunning Alor blue) and of course full LEDs front and rear with daytime running lights (as standard) mark the Leon FR out as something rather special.

It’s got quality and desirability written all over it and for the first time ever the Leon has the edge over its more conservative cousin, the Golf.

In fact, some industry insiders are speculating that SEAT are being pushed up the corporate ladder and the Martorell-based manufacturer is to become more closely aligned with mother ship Audi. 

That rumour could very well be true and judging by the build quality, technology and level of standard spec, the FR is certainly no longer the poor relation.

The side profile of the ST (Sports Tourer) with chrome roof rails and rounded bottom is not a million miles away from an A4 Avant or indeed the award-winning A3 Sportback.

Kit on the FR is equally as good as the Vorsprungs, but simply better value.  

The long list of goodies includes 17-inch alloys (including spare), fog lamps with cornering function, rear parking sensors, leather multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, sports suspension, dual zone climate control, 5.8 inch touch screen media system with Bluetooth and music streaming ability.

More importantly is the SEAT Drive Profile, which allows the driver to select  four different modes –  Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual.

Choose whichever and the on-board computer makes the necessary changes to the steering, throttle and gear response to reflect the drive.

And just to get you in the right mood the interior lighting in the door panels switches too – red for sport and white for comfort.

It’s hard not to feel a little devilish in a car like this, so Sport it is.

Built on the same MBQ platform (chassis) as the Golf/A3 and lowered by 25mm, handling was bound to be sharp, but twin it to a lively 2.0 litre diesel generating 150bhp and you’re in hot hatch country.

It’s got a decent sprint too and 0-100kph takes just over 8.6 seconds, and with a top whack of 215 you won’t be left wanting.

She’s pretty frugal as long as you drive in Eco mode (ours only made it out of Sport a couple of times) but you should get around 55mpg and because emissions are just 106g/km road tax comes in at €190 a year.

So, something for everybody – economy, performance and affordability.

Prices for the SEAT Leon FR start at €27, 325

(The Herald)

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