SEAT Leon SE 1.4 TSI - SEAT LEON Car Review

Review

Added: 20 Nov 2009
Last update:

THE second generation of the SEAT Leon has a lot to live up to.

First time around it topped the Spanish car maker's sales chart for the UK in 2007 - overtaking the Ibiza.

Since then a revamped Ibiza has reclaimed the number one position, but with a host of revisions the new Leon is expected to be a star player for SEAT once more.

With only modest changes to a sporty exterior which combines the sleek image of a coupe with five-door practicality, the major changes are focused on the interior.

There are numerous new features including modifications to the steering wheel, instrument cluster, central console and seats. The result is a sportier-looking cockpit and a passenger compartment that is more modern and sophisticated.

The multi-function steering wheel, headlights and air conditioning are fitted with new, easier to use controls embellished in silver. This colour is also found on the ventilation bezels adding a stylish sparkle to the cabin.

The attention to detail is impressive with the instrument cluster now backlit and varying in brightness automatically depending on the amount of light in the cabin.

The central console is tilted slightly towards the driver and appears to be suspended, providing space for a handy oddments tray and two cup holders.

The Leon is one of the larger family hatchbacks so can accommodate three on a rear seat which boasts a cushion made using a special manufacturing technique that improves comfort. A comfortable position behind the steering wheel is easy to find while head and legroom are plentiful.

The Leon can also cope with a decent shopping expedition as it offers 341 litres of space - and with the rear seat folded flat this expands to an impressive 1,166 litres.

There are a number of clever ideas incorporated into the latest Leon. To enhance the sleek shape the rear doorhandles have been hidden in the doorframe but are still easily accessible. Lightweight materials are used for the headlamp units that are less likely to shatter in an impact. There's an improved parking aid system and a new navigation system.

The downsides are few and far between. I found the wide windscreen pillars restricted visibility a bit when pulling out of a junction and the ride was a little firm around town. That said, the sporty suspension gives good levels of grip and body control when tackling tight, twisty country lanes.

There is a good choice of engines available with the 1.4 TSI petrol engine in the car I tested proving a winner with a surprisingly punchy performance that made for easy overtaking.

As far as value for money is concerned, the Leon is competitively priced with plenty of equipment fitted as standard on even the basic S models. This includes air conditioning, electric front windows, remote central locking and six airbags, with the SE version adding dual zone climate control, tinted windows, cruise control, leather steering wheel, eight-speaker radio/CD player, see-you-home headlights, plus electric rear windows and door mirrors.

Safety features include a traction control system, hi-tech electronics to help keep you on the road, tyre pressure monitoring plus front, side and curtain airbags.

With its sleek shape and stylish interior the SEAT Leon looks to be going places.

FAST FACTS

SEAT Leon 1.4 TSI SE

Price: £15,950

Mechanical: 125PS, 1390cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox.

0-62mph: 9.8 seconds

Max speed: 122mph

Combined mpg: 45.6

Insurance group: 8

CO2 emissions: 148g/km

BiK rating: 17%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

Words: Peter Keenan

Keywords: SEAT, LEON