Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
There are only three engines to choose from at the moment and they all require you to squirt petrol in the tank. Confusingly, two of them are 1.5-litres in size and pump out an identical 148bhp – the difference is that the eTSI 150 version is a mild hybrid, which means a small electric motor is on hand to help low-rev oomph and (as we’ll talk about later) improve fuel economy.
The TSIe’s outright acceleration is barely any stronger than in the regular TSI 150, but both engines are more than fast enough and can get you to 62mph from a standstill in just under nine seconds. However, as long as you’re happy with a manual gearbox, we reckon the cheaper 128bhp 1.5-litre (badged 1.5 TSI 130) is the pick of the range, with performance that’s up to the job if you don’t mind working it a little harder.
If comfort is a priority, and it will be to many estate buyers, it’s best to stick with SE, SE Dynamic or one of the Xcellence trims. You’ll feel potholes and pimples rounded off a little better and it’s less fidgety, too. However, the rival Skoda Octavia Estate and Toyota Corolla Touring Sports are even more supple.
The sports suspension fitted to FR models really helps the Leon shine on twisty roads. The car turns in to bends keenly with little body lean and, thanks to lots of grip, you can carry a surprising amount of speed through corners.
Indeed, there aren’t aren’t estates in this price bracket that trump the Leon for agility, and it also has naturally weighted steering that helps give you the confidence to drive quickly (when it’s appropriate to do so, of course). Okay, it’s no BMW 3 Series Touring, but it makes the rival Octavia Estate feel positively wallowy.