For value, space and quality, all-new SEAT Leon has to be our Car of the Year
SEAT have made some pretty good cars in the past – now they're producing exceptional ones.
The all-new Leon is the latest example of that revolution.
All too often in the past the Spanish arm of the giant VW brand had been the poor relation when it came to design and technology.
Well not any more.
In fact, the runt of the litter has looked past the master and is taking sartorial tips from the grand master himself.
You see there are more Audi traits to this hot hatch than VW.
Unthinkable, but true.
Just look at the front with razor-edge lines flowing from front to back, aggressive front grille dominated by dazzling LED daytime running lights and sunken fog lights.
At the rear the well-rounded back side is complimented by a roof spoiler, black inlays around the number plate housing, twin chrome exhausts and super sexy LED lamps.
Yes folks, the third generation Leon is more A3 than Golf and the quality of the interior will confirm this.
The cabin is a spacious, well-thought driver-focused cockpit which is the polar opposite of what we've come to expect from SEAT.
It has faux leather, double stitched sports seats, flat bottomed, leather steering wheel and smatterings of brushed aluminium around the central console and clocks.
The FR model we tested comes with a generous amount of standard kit too including 17in alloys, climate control, fog lights with cornering, cruise control, rear parking sensors and media centre with 8in colour touchscreen controlling Bluetooth, music and USB.
But the piece de resistance for the FR has to be the Drive Profile – a choice of five settings including Sport which, when pressed, changes the interior lighting of the cabin to a very naughty lipstick red.
As the mood changes, the steering gets a little tauter and the suspension a tad stiffer as this 150bhp monster gets ready to party.
And party she can with a 0-100kph in an impressive 8.6s and a top end of 215kph.
There is plenty of grip from this front-wheel drive and lots of feedback from the steering although just not quite as sophisticated as the Golf.
That's down to the torsion beam set-up unlike the independent, multi-link suspension on the VW.
That said, the 2.0litre diesel is punchy, sporty and not lacking in grunt or torque and is fantastically efficient returning a whopping 66mpg and with emissions of 106g/km – meaning road tax of just €180.
So SEAT have finally achieved what they started out to do almost 25 years ago – produce a car with the fiery Spanish spirit coupled with German technology and build quality.
With a starting price of €18,995 the Leon is coming in around €2,000 cheaper than the Golf or the Ford Focus. My contender for Herald Car of The Year.