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Seat Leon FR review

  • Revised Leon FR range driven
  • Prices 18,205-22,760
  • On sale now
Words BySteve Huntingford

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What is it? A quarter of all Leon buyers opt for the sporty FR trim. What's more, that proportion is only likely to get bigger because Seat is introducing a broader range of engines.

The new entry-level FR uses a turbocharged 122bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, while the cheapest diesel option is a 138bhp 2.0-litre.

Sitting above these in the range are the 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel and 208bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol that have been available for years. However, both now get more standard equipment and a new FR+ badge to mark this.

While all Leon FRs come with sports suspension and aggressively styled bumpers, FR+ adds luxuries such as sat-nav, a DAB radio, Bluetooth audio connectivity and bi-xenon headlights.

Prices for these models have risen by a hefty-sounding 1070. However, Seat points out that if you specified all the extra equipment separately it would cost you 2465.

What's it like to drive? The turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine is smooth and flexible, so it's very easy to live with. What's more, it averages 45.6mpg and attracts a competitive 19% company car tax rating, whereas the admittedly much faster 2.0-litre turbo petrol can manage only 38.7mpg and a 24% rating.

The 138bhp diesel will be even cheaper to run because it averages 58.9mpg and sits in the 18% band (compared with the 168bhp diesel's 55.4mpg and 19%). True, it sounds a little coarse at the extremes of its rev range, but it's pretty quiet the rest of the time, and pulls well from below 1500rpm.

Just don't expect hot hatch pace from either of the new engines they need almost 10 seconds to get the Leon from 0-62mph.

There's still a lot of fun to be had, thanks to the car's tight body control and sharp steering, and while the ride is firm, it's never punishing. Unfortunately, the Leon lets in a lot of road noise on most surfaces, so it's nowhere near as refined as newer rivals such as the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf.

What's it like inside?
The FR spec brings a few sporty touches, including a flat-bottomed steering wheel and figure-hugging seats, but otherwise the cabin is drab and dreary.

Front- and rear visibility also disappoint. However, the dashboard is logically laid out and it's easy to find a comfortable driving position thanks to the wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment.

There's plenty of space for four and the boot is a decent size. It's just a pity that its entrance is awkwardly shaped and there's a high load lip to clear.

Should I buy one?
FR-spec Leons have always offered sporty looks and handling, and these new models bring those qualities to a wider audience than ever. Just make sure you can live with the dated interior and below-average refinement.

Rivals
Ford Focus
Volkswagen Golf

What Car? says

Steven.Huntingford@whatcar.com