SEAT Leon SE Technology 1.0 TSI Ecomotive
There has been a lot of discourse in Catalunya recently, as the regional government attempted & failed to establish an independent state. The Catalunyan region has been the driving force for Spain’s economy.The Capital may be Madrid, but the industrial power is in & around Barcelona. No surprise then that Spain’s own brand car maker SEAT is based near the city & it’s where in the past few years the brand has built a succession of excellent cars including the CC&V 2016 Car of the year the Ateca.
Back in the early 1980’s when I first visited Spain, SEAT was a Spanish car brand derived from Fiats. You weren’t likely to see one here in the UK that’s for sure. But, by the mid 1980’s SEAT was in the UK & when the automotive giants that are Volkswagen took a majority share in them in 1986, things were looking bright for the Spanish brand.
Roll on a 30 years & SEAT is now well established in the UK. Their C Class competitor is the Leon, a name that I remember as a metro stop in Madrid, ‘ Diego de Leon ‘ & it’s a town in the north of Spain, towards the Atlantic coast & Portuguese borders. SEAT, Volkswagen, SKODA & Audi all come under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, each offering a slightly different version of what is essentially often the same car. The Leon is SEAT’s version of the Golf, a five door family hatchback, with both a little of it’s own identity & some familiar VW traits.
Whilst the SUV sector shows no sign of abating, SEAT have the B Sector Arona in the UK in 2018, the C Sector five door hatchback is still mightily important to European car makers. The SEAT Leon may not be as well known as it’s sister car the Volkswagen Golf, but being built on the same platform & fitted with a similar range of engines, it’s actually a cheaper alternative to the German car & as we found out recently, is just as good to drive.
Luckily, the Leon we were driving was powered by the VW Groups splendid 1.0 litre 115ps petrol engine, which is one of the best petrol units out there. It’s not quite as frugal as the diesel Leon, but is much more fun to drive with its high revving , zippy acceleration & a 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds. Claimed combined economy is 64.2mpg with low emissions of 102g/km so it’s definitely an engine that business customers should consider.
Our test model was the SE technology which features a decent equipment list which includes air-con, electric parking brake with auto hold, 3.5” drivers display, hill hold control, halogen headlamps with small LED daytime running lights, Aerodynamic Package (rear and side spoilers), Bluetooth connectivity, alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel & gearknob & a quite excellent 8” infotainment touchscreen with Full Link Technology, including Apple Car Play & Android Auto.
I linked my iPhone quickly & also connected it via Apple Car Play, allowing me to listen to my podcasts & use Google Maps to reach my destination. The system in the Leon really works well with an easy to use touchscreen menu & a simple to understand menu. It;s definitely a winer.
The latest Leon has been updated & improved to be more practical as well. Wider rear doors make it easier to get in & out of the rear of the SEAT, while head & legroom have both been improved. A number of handy storage space & cup-holders for holding your odds and ends are on offer in the front & rear. The boot capacity is also better, now offering 380 litres with all seats in use, increasing to 1210 litres with the rear 60:40 split seats folded. They don’t fold down fully flat though, which leaves a small step in the boot floor & there is also a high boot lip, making it harder to slide in heavier objects.
Inside, the dashboard is noticeably better quality than in the old model & is now closer to the finish found in the Volkswagen Golf. The instrumentation dials are clear & easy to read & separate heating controls make adjusting the air-con easy, unlike the latest trend where the controls are annoyingly built into the touchscreen.
My week in the Leon, was a pleasurable one. I adore the 1.0 litre engine, which is also found in the Ateca & VW Golf amongst others. It’s a joy to drive. Economy wise, I averaged 44.5 mpg driving 400+ miles on a combination of roads which included being stationary sitting a number of traffic jams. To put this in perspective, I averaged over 53 mpg in the 1.6 diesel Leon last time out so the petrol is getting closer if not quite as good.
If you’re reading this & still aren’t convinced, can I suggest you test drive the Leon. If you want a better looking car than either the Golf or Audi A3, with almost VW build quality, at a more reasonable price, you could find that the Leon ticks all the right boxes.
Kings of Leon 4 out of 5.