Leon gives Seat a Spanish high with pace and price
HERE in March, is the new SEAT Leon, built on the lighter platform of the latest Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3.
In looks, the Leon sits between the graceful styling of the Golf and the brasher, in your face, brand image of the Audi.
Lower costs in Spain and a slight downgrade of interior trim brings the 104bhp 1.2S Leon five-door in at £15,670, which is a whopping £2,280 less than the cheapest fivedoor Golf with the same engine.
An interesting option, unique in the sector, are full LED headlamps, with the combined dipped and full beams giving close similarity to driving in daylight. They eliminate dark zones, are less tiring for the eyes and use less power than other lights.
At 70mph, after half a minute, the beam rises to give increased range – but avoids dazzle. Clever technology. The anticipated cost is around £1,000 but at the time of writing there was talk that navigation would be included in the price.
Like its peers in the VW Group, the Leon is a sweet drive, and the keener driver will enjoy the handling balance and ride refinement. Indeed, the whole Leon project supports SEAT’s ghastly new brand slogan, “enjoyneering”. The outgoing slogan of Auto Emocion said more.
Driving the Leon in southern Spain this week, the handling grip was fine on mountain roads recently slimed by muddy storms, strewn with small grit and bringing in the electronic differential (not fitted on the S model) at the front wheels to adjust to the low grip surface.
On lateral ridges the rear suspension transmitted a jolt in the pants. Despite Leon’s low entry price, all but two versions cost more than £17,000 and the majority are in the £18,000 to £22,000 bracket where they are competitive with most European rivals but look expensive against the European-made Kia cee’d and Hyundai i30 twins.
The entry level Leon 1.2S has all you need if you do not mind 15 inch steel wheels. If you upgrade to alloys you may as well spend a bit more and get the SE which has 16 inch alloys as standard. The 181 bhp diesel has figures of 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds, 142mph max, 65.7mpg and 112g/km of CO2. VAUXHALL has responded to criticism that the suspension refinement on its new Mokka wasn’t good enough for British tastes. “We were disappointed by the first Press reports on the car,” said Vauxhall Motors managing director Duncan Aldred. The UK Mokka will have a stiffer steering gear bush, retuning of the electromechanical power steering and the dampers.
SWEET DRIVE: Keener motorists will enjoy the Seat Leon’s handling.