Hatch with ‘spark’

seat leon

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The third generation SEAT Leon looks a very promising package indeed. Better looking than before, classier inside and out.

With super-efficient engines and the retention of its sporting appeal, it’s exactly the car the Spanish brand needs to resurrect its fortunes in this sector.

The Leon made its name as a sporty selection and the latest line-up is powered by a series of downsized yet powerful TDI diesel and TSI petrol engines, ranging from 1.2 to 2.0 litres. All the engines in the line-up feature direct injection and turbocharging, and have been engineered for efficiency. The 1.6 TDI generates 105PS and 250Nm of torque. The extensively re-engineered 2.0 TDI develops 150PS and 320Nm of torque. Petrol people will find their dealer more than willing to take orders for the 1.2 TSI with 105PS, a 1.4 TSI with 140PS and at the top of the petrol range, a 1.8 TSI with 180PS which utilises a combination of direct and manifold injection.

Depending on the engine, transmission options range from five and six-speed manual gearboxes or the twin-clutch six and seven-speed DSG sequential gearboxes.

The Leon FR hot hatch features an interesting function called SEAT Drive Profile. This allows the driver to vary the characteristics of the power steering, throttle control and even the engine sound via a sound actuator using three modes: eco, comfort and sport. There is also a facility to tailor the settings according to the driver’s preference. The interior ambient LED lighting changes according to the selected setting: white in eco and comfort modes, and red in sport. No red mist please.

The Leon is built on the Volkswagen Group’s Modularer Querbaukasten architecture which, in layman’s terms, means it’s built on the same chassis as an Audi A3 and the next generation Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf. This modular layout allows the company to alter wheelbases and track widths to suit different cars.

The old Leon was a car that you’d recommend with caveats.

None of that now.

This time round, SEAT has surgically excised each of these reasons for passing the Leon over. We’re excited. If you’re looking to buy a family hatchback with a bit of a spark to it, you should be too.