SEAT Leon poses new threat to pricier Golf
AT least you have a choice now: The new SEAT Leon or a Volkswagen Golf.
They are close cousins (both are built on VW's MBQ platform) but a little distant on price. For example, the entry-level five-door Leon (€18,995 ex-works) costs €1,000 less than the three-door Golf.
It looks a lot different too. The front is sharp and quite attractive. The rear? It's not nearly as good.
The marque has been out of the limelight for a while now which is why it is putting a lot of effort into getting as many as 550 people into a new Leon this year. More luck to them.
It's a tough time but not a bad juncture to be comparing prices with others in the family hatchback segment.
Don't rule out the 1.2-litre TSI petrols (there's an 86bhp, €18,995; and 105bhp version) if you are not putting up major mileage. But do go for the 1.6-litre TDI diesel (90bhp, €20,995; 105bhp, €21,675) if you are.
There is also a 1.8-litre TSI petrol (180bhp) and 2-litre TDI (150bhp, 184bhp) for those who want a bit of performance – I mean 184bhp is one powerful engine.
But in an era of price consciousness, the 1.6-litre TDI with its €180 road tax rating (99g/km, 3.8l/ 100km) is probably the one to target.
The Leon is brand new but even though it is 5cm shorter than the old one, the longer wheelbase (6cm) means they use the extra to provide more cabin space.
The cabin, in fairness, is bright and nicely spacious. There's a lot of spec as standard. It includes air con, five-inch colour touch screen (MP3, USB/SD card/Bluetooth, phone and audio streaming, CD), six speakers, six airbags, front electric windows and a multifunction steering wheel. To be fair, not every entry-level competitor has Bluetooth.
Next level (Style) adds cruise control, front fogs with cornering function, 16-inch alloys, XDS (electronic differential lock) and hill hold, and rear electric windows.
Top spec (FR) has lights and rain sensors, electric heated/folding mirrors, two-zone climatic air con, 5.8-inch colour touch screen, eight speakers, rear park distance control, a system which adjusts steering and throttle response, 17-inch alloys, tweaked suspension, full front and rear LED lights.