2013 Seat Leon 2.0 TDI 184 FR

* Hot diesel Seat Leon driven * 181bhp and 65.7mpg * On sale now, priced from 22,375...

2013 Seat Leon 2.0 TDI 184 FR

If the Seat Leon is the sporty one of the Leon/Skoda Octavia/VW Golf trio, then this fast diesel 2.0 TDI 184 FR version should be just the ticket.

It gets a powerful 2.0-litre engine (a lower-powered diesel is also available in FR trim, along with 1.4- and 1.8-litre petrols) and firmer suspension, while different bumpers, sports seats and a smattering of red interior trim mark it out from cheaper models in the range.

What's the Seat Leon 2.0 TDI 184 FR like to drive?
If you're after something fast and easy to drive, then the Leon TDI FR delivers. If you want thrills as well, you may be slightly disappointed.

The engine is a highlight. It's smooth, quick to rev and, despite a muted gruffness at either end of the rev counter, it's generally refined. It's also punchy from almost any revs in any gear, making the FR effortlessly quick.

The steering and other controls carry on this feeling of effortlessness. They're light and easy to use, so whether you're bumbling along or dashing down a country road, the Leon FR is undemanding to drive.

The stiffer suspension keeps the car flat through corners, although it's a shame the steering isn't more confidence-inspiring when you're driving quickly.

The ride isn't that successful, either. It's firm at low speeds and doesn't deal well with big bumps, although our test car was fitted with optional 18-inch wheels (17s are standard), which no doubt amplified the problem. The FR isn't uncomfortable enough to ruin your day, but it's irritating enough if most of your journeys are in and around town.

If you spend most of your time on the motorway, you'll have to put up with lots of road noise on coarse surfaces. At least there's not much wind or engine noise to disturb you.

What's the Seat Leon 2.0 TDI 184 FR like inside?
The Leon FR's cabin is a nice place to be. The dashboard is smartly styled, helped by neat touches such as the angular air vents, and everything feels solid, even though some of the plastics lower down in the cabin are more hardy than classy.

There's lots of space in the front, and the standard sports seats are supportive and comfortable. There's plenty of room in the rear seats for adults, too.

The boot is big, although there's a high lip to lift things over, and then a long drop to the floor.

You get plenty of toys for your money, too. Dual-zone climate control, a five-inch touch-screen, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control and Bluetooth are all standard.

Should I buy one?
The Leon FR is quick, good to drive and looks suitably sporty inside and out.

It's also cheap to run, thanks to impressive fuel economy and low CO2 emissions that put it in the 16% company car tax band.

The forthcoming VW Golf GTD will offer the same mechanicals, but will probably cost around 3500 more than the Seat. So, if you're after a quick diesel hatchback that's decently practical and well equipped, the Leon FR is a fine choice.

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Read the full Seat Leon review >>

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from 22,375
Power 181bhp
Torque 280lb ft
0-62mph 7.5sec
Top speed 142mph
Fuel economy 65.7mpg (official)
CO2 g/km 112g/km

Barnaby Jones