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Added: 11 Sep 2011
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HOT hatch fun with supermini economy has become the preserve of the latest sporty number from SEAT.

The sizzling Leon FR line up is being given more appeal with two new engines and a top specification trim upgrade.

According to SEAT, the FR models have almost become a range within a range and now account for nearly a quarter of all Leon sales in the UK.

FR stands for Formula Racing and the cars have developed a reputation for being quick off the mark with impeccable handling.

So far the cars have been available only with high powered diesel or petrol engines sitting just below the red hot Leon Cupra R models.

Now the FR designation is being broadened out with the introduction of a 1.4-litre petrol version and a 140bhp two-litre diesel.

The 1.4 has a turbo engine boosted to pump out 125bhp and at £18,205 is the cheapest Leon FR to date.

The new diesel will cost from £20,245 while the higher powered versions are moving up a league to become FR+ models priced from £22,615 for the 170bhp diesel and £21,600 for the very quick 211bhp petrol version.

Pound for pound they are competitively priced – almost a snip compared to the likes of the Golf GTI – and until the arrival of Ford’s new Focus ST next year the SEAT quartet almost has the market to itself.

All four are great fun to drive with uprated suspension delivering some top notch handling.

While the two-litre 211bhp version is the only version which can possibly lay claim to be a true hot hatch – 0 to 60 in 6.9 seconds with a top speed of 145 – all are quick enough for the average enthusiast to enjoy.

What is really impressive is the fuel economy. The diesels can easily average more than 50 miles to the gallon, the 1.4 mid-40s and even the two-litre petrol is not far off the 40 mark – and that is without trying.

Equally important is the CO2 ratings and all but the 2.0 TSI come in well below the 160g/km threshold for business users.

All versions come with plenty of kit including LED rear lights, rear parking sensors and dual zone air conditioning and have tell-tale silver capped door mirrors which differentiate them from the rest of the Leon range.

Another giveaway is subtle FR badging which includes a logo on the front bumper.

Seventeen-inch alloys feature on both FR models while the FR+ have 18-inch wheels and all four look the part.

Extra equipment fitted on the FR+ includes sat nav, bi-xenon lighting, a front parking sensor and a multi-media system which includes digital radio, Bluetooth, voice control and SD card input.

For the price it is genuinely in the running for the best value performance hatch on the market.

Inside, there are plenty of sporty touches with all versions featuring leather steering wheels with flat bottomed rims and carbon fibre effect trim on the dash.

On the FR the navigation module is an £815 extra but worthwhile – not just for the obvious but also because it gives the dash a high tech feel which seems necessary in a car of this ilk.

The Leon range is now priced from £16,180 for a 1.2-litre TSI version and tops out at £25,995 for the Cupra R.

 

 

Words: Chris Russon

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