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Leon is king of the road

The Spanish rival of the VW Golf has bowled over Campbell Spray with its good looks, economy and smart tech

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CRACKER: The Seat Leon can alert the driver to an overtaking car in the motorist’s blindspot

CRACKER: The Seat Leon can alert the driver to an overtaking car in the motorist’s blindspot

CRACKER: The Seat Leon can alert the driver to an overtaking car in the motorist’s blindspot

Cycling through Dublin last Monday after dropping back a car to Sandyford, I was struck by how many businesses are still shuttered and that the city looks pretty sad. However, it was good to see that the painters were at work at The Long Hall on South Great George's Street.

It's a wonderful pub, a real part of our heritage, and I just hope that the Covid numbers will allow it to fully open on Monday week.

In spite of the general depressed state of the economy, the car companies have been very busy over the last two weeks. We have had launches of the upgraded Peugeot 3008 and 5008, the electric Skoda Enyaq, a revitalised Ford Kuga, and the Skoda Octavia, which has been one of the country's favourite cars.

Any car beloved by taxi drivers is always worth taking seriously. My colleague, Martin Brennan, gives some launch details on the right.

The car I returned before my cycle ride was a very impressive Seat Leon in FR trim. The Leon claims to be the Spanish company's "most connected" car and it is coming down with tech.

However, it was some simple touches that really hit the spot with me. Best was the light shining on the driver's door trim when there was a car overtaking in my blind spot. Pure class.

Just as it was that the Seat people had put one of their electric scooters in the boot so as to emphasise their mobility solutions. Every purchaser deserves one. The car was remarkably roomy and when the back seats were folded down it took my full-sized bike with ease on top of the scooter.

The seats don't fold completely flat, but it was still a fine space. The Leon is a direct rival to the Golf, its iconic German sibling in the overall Volkswagen group. It's better priced, looks more stylish both inside and out and drives with real confidence; good as a Focus and probably better than the Golf.

The test car had a mild hybrid 1.5 TSI petrol engine and very good economy: you can expect nearly 50mpg (4.7l/100km) even on motorways and the 100kmh will come up in 8.5 seconds.

The FR trim gave it sportier suspension and 18-inch wheels, all of which helped the overall oomph of the car. The driver assist and safety systems were all first-rate, making for a real cracker to own.

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The test car was ​€35,674, but that included €4,784 of extra spec. I'd be very happy to own one... and the scooter. Its colour was Desire Red.

My wife's only complaint was that it wasn't a SUV and the cup holders were awkward. Praise indeed.

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A reader writes: "Campbell, ​you said in your review of the 3008 PHEV that 'you think the plug-in idea is still a bit of a con'. I have owned a Kia Niro PHEV since January. Here is my status since last fill. Travelled 545km for 2.5 litres of petrol. I do have a home charger and low-price electricity overnight, so the electricity cost me about ​€3. I am also very happy with the car. It suits my needs perfectly.

"I firmly believe that you should encourage people to fully understand their requirements and look at all the alternatives. It is no longer a one-size-fits-all game. And everything is going to have a plug sooner or later.

"I do agree the 3008 PHEV is way too expensive.

"Yours etc. J."


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