Seat Leon FR driven

* Updated styling * Classier cabin * Powerful new engines...

Seat Leon FR driven

What with the new VW Golf and new Renault Megane already here, and a new Vauxhall Astra not far away, the revised Leon has come not a moment too soon for Seat. It's sharper to look at, smarter inside and better equipped than the current model, but should cost no more.

Cosmetic changes

The changes aren't all that obvious at first glance, and even the company admits that this face-lift is just an evolution of the current shape.

Still, for the record, it extends to new bumpers, reshaped lights, new mirrors and a new grille with a smaller 'S' logo; inside, there are new trims and a redesigned centre console, while the extra kit includes stability control across the range.

The whole thing certainly has a feeling of higher quality, but the driver's view out remains limited and the entrance to the boot is still restricted.

Under the skin

The news in the engine range is at the top end, with two new refined 2.0-litre engines in the sporty FR versions: a 168bhp common-rail turbodiesel and the 207bhp petrol engine that's also used in the new VW Golf GTi.

Each gives the Leon strong performance, with good flexibility across the rev range. The extra power of the petrol engine, as well as the higher revs it can reach, makes it the sportier of the two.

However, with a 0-60mph time of around eight seconds, more than 50mpg on the combined cycle and 139g/km carbon dioxide emissions, the diesel is a tempting package, especially for those that do high mileages.

Perhaps most importantly, the company has also slightly softened the FR's suspension. The slight firmness you would expect of a sporty car is still there, and the handling is as sharp as ever, but the new FR is certainly easier to live with than the old model.

Our verdict:

Some welcome improvements, but still not top of its class

Seat Leon FRPrice: £17,500 - £18,000 (est)
On sale: July
You'll like Striking styling; punchy new engines
You won't: Ride may be a little firm for some; restricted visibility