SEAT Leon will turn heads

NEW CAR REVIEW

Thursday, 11th April 2013, 2:19 pm
The SEAT Leon

SEAT Leon SC

by Andy Enright

Now this is something a little different. SEAT’s Leon was originally a sporty hatch that gradually grew a bit mature in its later iterations.

The new SEAT Leon

You can now get it in a short-wheelbase three-door SC form that’s all attitude. You may want to hold on for the Cupra models though.

The Leon SC offers much the same selection of engines as its five-door counterpart, albeit with some of the less powerful units quietly excised from its price list.

That means you get 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 while the extensively re-engineered 2.0 TDI develops 150PS and 320Nm of torque.

If you’d prefer petrol power, your dealer will also take orders for the 1.2 TSI in 105PS guise, a 1.4 TSI with 140PS and at the top of the petrol range, a 1.8 TSI with 180PS which utilises a combination of direct and manifold injection. The FR in 185PS 2.0 TDI guise is bound to be popular.

Depending on the engine, transmission options range from five and six-speed manual gearboxes or the twin-clutch six and seven-speed DSG sequential transmissions.

The chassis of the SEAT Leon seems relatively straightforward in its architecture, with MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension for engines up to 150PS but go for a more powerful model and you then get a multi-link rear setup that’s a bit more geared towards performance driving.

We’ve gone on record professing our appreciation of the five-door Leon’s proportions and the three-door SC model’s shape takes a little more time to rest on the eyeball.

It’s normally the other way round with most hatches, but it’s probably just because we’ve become accustomed to Leons being biggish, rather bluff things.

The SC is a more delicate-looking design with definite traces of Audi A3 in the rear glasshouse styling. With a 4.23-metre overall length, the Leon SC looks a good deal more compact than the five-door car, despite only being 3cm shorter overall. It’s 110kg lighter than the second-generation Leon, and 20kg lighter than the five-door Leon.

The SEAT Leon SC does more than most three-door versions of existing five-door hatches. This one runs on a shorter wheelbase chassis for sharper handling and pert good looks.

You might not instantly recognise it as a Leon, as this car is a few centimetres shorter than the five-door which is in turn a few centimetres shorter than its predecessor, but it seems that small is indeed beautiful.

It’ll just take the public a little while to catch on to this one but catch on they will.

This could very well be the first SEAT for some time to really strike it big in the UK.

It’s hard to pinpoint any serious weaknesses. It looks good, the interior quality has come on by leagues, the engine line-up is now bang up to date, it rides on a brand new chassis, the pricing is competitive, SEAT’s reliability record is getting back to where it ought to be and did we say it looks good?

I’m genuinely struggling to think of reasons why you wouldn’t like the Leon SC.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

CAR: SEAT Leon SC range

PRICES: £15,370-£22,335 - on the road

INSURANCE GROUPS: 13-29 [est]

CO2 EMISSIONS: from 99-137 g/km

PERFORMANCE: [1.2 TSI] Max Speed 117mph / 0-62mph 10.7s [est]

FUEL CONSUMPTION: [1.6 TDI Ecomotive] (combined) 74.3 mpg

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: six airbags, 3-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners, ESP stability control

WILL IT FIT IN THE GARAGE?: Length/width/height 4230/1816/1459mm