If you’d like your family hatch-back with a dash more attitude than the normal bland box, look to SEAT and its striking Leon.
With the car benefiting from the best engineering that the Volkswagen Group can offer, think of it as a Golf with a sharper suit and a keener price tag.
It took quite a while for the public to warm to the radical step change that SEAT introduced when it moved from the hugely popular Mk1 SEAT Leon to the bigger and slicker second generation car. That’s often how it is when radical designs are introduced. Many of the cars that we slated as being ugly now look really good. The Leon was never ugly but some of the other designs spun off that styling theme in the SEAT line up weren’t the happiest looking things. The benefit of hindsight shows that the Leon was the best interpretation of ex-Alfa man Walter da Silva’s design language.
It never reprised the sales success of the original, and SEAT is looking to kick start interest in the Leon line with a third generation model that shares the basic proportioning of its predecessor but which looks tauter and a good deal more modern. Still want that Golf?
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.
The Leon has always been a vehicle that has carried an extremely reasonable asking price that is in turn backed up by solid residual values. Couple that with some of the most fuel-efficient engines in the VW Group parts portfolio and the end result is one of the most cost-effective family cars that is in any way sporty.
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.
With the old Leon, this 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.