SPANISH car maker Seat is set to boost its record breaking sales figures and record its best ever UK market share following the launch of the new third generation Leon which has been receiving rave reviews writes Bryan Longworth.
For the new Leon which is built in Seat’s factory near Barcelona and is the first Seat to use the new company logo is an altogether better car than the previous model and shares the same platform as the Audi A3, VW Golf and Skoda Octavia that are all now part of the massive VW Group empire.
Leon a five door hatchback which will eventually be available as a coupe and estate has a very stylish body that gives it plenty of street cred and the interior especially the fascia, controls and instruments is much improved on the previous model which was nowhere near as impressive and rather bland by comparison.
And a first in this class is the availability of the brilliant full LED headlights which are an option as fitted on my test car (where they were part of a technology pack including sat nav and DAB radio for £500) but the cost is much less than those offered by other manufacturers and they are so effective for nightime driving.
On test was the Leon SE 1.6 TDI CR with a 1.6-litre diesel engine with CO2 emissions of 99g/km - no road tax to pay - which had a top speed of 119mph, zero to 62mph time of 10.7 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 74.32mpg priced at £18,490.
The new model which is considerably lighter than the previous Leon also has new style signature LED daytime running lights that provide a strip effect around the headlamps and in their way are likely to become as distinctive as those on Audi cars which are generally acknowledged as being the best daytime lights in the business.
I also really liked the new style on board computer display which is the best I have seen in a car in this sector that has easy to see information on various functions including a digital speedometer and is now likely to be used on future aforementioned VW Group brands because it is so effective and the touch screen infotainment centre was also a user friendly useful piece of kit.
The 105bhp diesel engine which could become the most popular in the range was not intrusive and provided adequate power through the five speed manual gearbox to the front wheels with impressive handling making it an enjoyable car to drive especially for owners who really enjoy their motoring.
There is a larger more expensive diesel engine which is faster but not as economical and does not qualify for zero road tax so I would recommend going for the smaller unit which will be lively enough for most owners and will cost much less to run.
There is more space inside for the driver and passengers despite the car being shorter than the previous Leon and the boot which has a space saver spare wheel underneath it is also 40 litres larger.
During my week with the Leon I could not find anything to criticise which is unusual even for cars costing many times more than this Seat which has been totally designed by the company’s design staff at their headquarters in Spain unlike some models that are based on other cars from the VW Group.
New Leon is such a good car that it is now likely to appeal to motorists who have not previously considered a Seat (even some Golf owners) which is good news for the manufacturer for it will boost their image and further increase their sales figures and market share in the UK.
My Verdict: Destined to be a Spanish success story.
Model: New Seat Leon SE 1.6 TDI CR.
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel.
Transmission: Five speed manual.
Top speed: 119mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 10.7 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 74.3 combined.
CO2 emissions: 99 g/km.
Price: £18,490 on the road.