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King of Leon

It’s now just a matter of time before the Spaniards go to the Germans with the begging bowl in hand, and ‘do an Ireland on it’.

Just like us, the Portuguese and the Greeks, the Spaniards have been trying to convince everyone that they’re ‘doing just fine, amigos’.

Well, how things have changed. The Spaniards are as screwed as the rest of us; only difference is, when that particular bottle of Rioja goes pop, there will be one hell of a spill.

So it’s just as well that Seat have been showing Spain the way when it comes to dealing with those narky Germans.


The closest any of us have come to Spanish and German innovation is at the pool on holidays when a tide of towels takes over every available seat.

As Paddy is blearily stumbles back to his apartment after drinking 25 pints over the previous 12 hours, the Germans are up early working away at their own bit of global domination, even if it is just Torremolinos.

This innovative pool war that take place every summer obviously hasn’t gone unnoticed to Spanish car makers either.

Clearly, the Spaniards can’t build engines, just like the Irish can’t be trusted with money. So that’s why Seat went to VW 11 years ago and humbly asked for one of the most reliable engines in the world – the Golf TDi.

Today, wrapped up beautifully in the Seat shell, the VW engine performs superbly underneath and makes the Leon the best ‘reasonably priced car’ I’ve driven this year.

The one thing Seat always did well was aesthetics and the latest version is like a work of art. The nose is bigger and bolder and there’s a sleekness and a sportiness which surpasses all of its rivals.

Inside, things are simple, too much so for some. A basic air con system and bog standard stereo radio are more than capable, but don’t let that put you off.

The only thing really noticeable by its absence is the lack of an arm rest on the left hand driver’s side.

I nearly fell over when I went to put my rudder into the rest spot and there was nothing there – most cars will have a central container at the very least.

Anyway, the drive itself offset any missing links on the inside, and the 1.6TDi engine performed beautifully, capably and – dare I say it – at speed. The Seat Leon starts from €19,320 – just don’t ask the Germans for the loan.