The latest SEAT Leon range comes in a bewildering twenty variations.
Tom Scanlan drives the latest SEAT models including the hot hatch version, the SEAT Leon Cupra 300
There is a choice of five petrol engines and three Diesel engines. There are five-speed and six-speed manual gearboxes and a DSG automatic. Three- and five-door versions are on offer and a new trim level called, confidently, Xcellence.
Leon’s have been mildly face-lifted on the outside and a variety of new features appear on the inside or tucked out of sight in new high-tech applications.
There are new trim levels, like Xcellence, while topping out on the performance side are the Cupras with a stunning 300 PS from 2-litre engines, along with increased torque now up to 350Nm between 1800 and 5500 rpm.
This was the first of the two new models I tried at the launch, and it’s not at all bad – literally: there is absolutely nothing whatsoever bad about this car. Nor, of course, should we expect anything less. The car tested was a 5-door hatchback…or, in SEAT terms, coupe. It was all so easy.
Particularly neat is the way in which the various VAG settings for performance response, and suspension set-up can be selected. There is no delving deep into menus. You just go for the relevant button on the central console and it’s job done.
If you can find a nice, quiet, open road, then you can enjoy much of the car’s capability. Accompanied by a very satisfactory howl from the exhaust, you very soon hit any legal maximum; if you try your hardest, 62 mph is up in just 5.7 seconds. A positive 6-speed manual gearbox is fun to play with, especially if you bother to double de-clutch downward changes. The auto DSG box is an option in the Cupra 300, complete with launch control.
The brakes work, too! Emergency stops are eye-ball popping. Fuel consumption on my cross-country drive was an indicated 30.3 mpg.
This Leon handles twisty roads with aplomb and confidence, with excellent turn-in making it all very enjoyable. Price? This flier was £31,545, of which a mere £1135 were options (it would be nice if Audi followed that path!).
Also tried was the 150 PS diesel version. To be honest, and rather surprisingly, it didn’t seem that much of a lesser performer, reaching 62 mph in 8.4 seconds. Of course, it undertakes a completely different role in the overall range, but the 2-litre engine has got all that torque that punches you forwards especially in the middle gears, if you need some acceleration. So, this car was also a fun drive! £25,595 for this one.
New SEAT Leon prices start at £17,455 for a 1.2 petrol. The lowest emission figure in the new range is 102 g/km for the 3-cylinder, 1-litre, 115 PS TSI petrol engine.
Topping the range at almost exactly double the 1.2’s price is the DSG 4Drive ST Cupra 300PS, £34,485…time was when you’d have laughed at a SEAT for that money, but, a) just compare it to rivals and, b) around 80% of new car buyers use easy-to-manage PCP and other monthly payment deals that enable them to afford such prices.
Car reviewed: SEAT Leon Cupra 300 2.0 TSI – Base Price On the road £31,545 0-62mph 5.7 secs Top speed 155mph limited Fuel Economy combined 42.2mpg CO2 emissions 153g/km Engine 1984cc 4-cylinder petrol EU6 Max Power 290PS@5900-6400rpm Torque 350Nm@1700-5800rpm Transmission 6-speed Manual
Extensive range of trims and engines
Stunning performance from a 2-litre engine
Really enjoyable to drive
Slightly bewildering range
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