The words ‘sporty’, and ‘economy’ don’t often appear in the same sentence together. Usually shoe-horning both things into one car means a compromising journey into no-mans land, but surprisingly, sometimes it can also work really well.
Take the Leon FR+ 2.0 TDI 170PS, while it doesn’t quite have the fire in its belly of the 2.0 TSI 211 PS, its certainly no slouch on the road and manages to combine racier looks and hi-spec with excellent fuel consumption and low-ish emissions.
Seat’s have always exuded a certain exotic-ness for me, partly I think in the early days with the Porsche connection, and partly because of it’s Spanish origins. Circumstances have changed, but this is still true today and with so many cars difficult to tell apart the almond-shaped front of the Leon is instantly recognisable, cutting a sleek, edgy but unfussy figure on the road.
If your budget won’t quite stretch to a Cupra, a FR+ is the one to go for and includes some nice exterior touches, such as 18″ ‘Ibera’ alloy wheels, Bi-xenon headlights with AFS – (a clever system connected to the steering wheel that uses a cornering light housed in the foglight to illuminate the area you are turning into), tinted rear windows and rain sensing wipers. Also nice are the rear door handles, hidden into the back window, something that seems to be a growing trend at the moment.
Inside the FR+ the sporty theme continues, with exclusive FR leather steering wheel, sport seats with ‘Dogo’cloth and red stitching, an excellent Sat-Nav / Media Console (as seen on the more expensive Audi’s and VW’s), 8-speakers, Bluetooth music streaming and phone connections, and a useful SD Card slot.
Despite there being quite a lot of buttons, things are laid out intelligently enough to be understood by even the most die hared technophobe. The general interior feel is comfortable, rather than super-luxury, personally something I prefer, especially when one of your kids drops an ice lolly on the back seat.
So, what is it like to actually drive? Pretty good. The six-speed gear box is only a touch behind your foot in lower gears, and the short stick is for the most part, smooth and direct. As you would expect from a ‘hot hatch’ the ride is quite firm. Thanks to the ESP Electronic Stability Programme (providing independent traction control for each wheel) the car holds the road extremely well too and in corners the steering is responsive, you could almost say, fun.
Off the mark, 0-60 in 8.2 secs, is not the fasted kid on the block, but keep your foot down and it eventually you will reach 133 mph, which is much quicker than you should ever need to go (unless you are on a racetrack). In which case you should be driving the Leon Cupra anyway.
Fuel consumption combined is 55.4mpg (extra urban 65.7mpg / urban 43.5) and CO2 emissions are 134g/km, some way short of the magical 100g/km but much better than most of its rivals.
Negatives are few, road noise is noticeable but not severe, boot space could be better, so too could be the glove box. Cabin space is average, and the red display may not be to everyone’s taste. For the amount of spec and extras you do get though, the Leon FR+ is competitively priced from £21.785.
Fill the tank up and according to Seat’s figures you could travel up to 670 miles. In real world use that is likely to be nearer 600 miles, even so it’s good enough to keep petrol stops to a minimum… and while we’re on the subject of petrol stations…
Why am I always the one stuck waiting behind the person who has decided to do their weekly shop in the garage just after filling their car up? Talk about annoying!
For more info visit www.seat.co.uk