With the launch of the Seat Leon SC, the Seat Leon range is filling out nicely.

Having started with the five-door hatchback version, the Volkswagen Group’s Spanish arm added the even prettier three-door, followed by the practical ST estate and the Octavia Scout and Golf Alltrack sibling - the X-Perience. At the same time, it quietly ushered into the UK the engine we’ve been waiting to test.

It’s the most powerful motor in the line-up unless you care to cast your eye at the 286bhp 2.0-litre TSI engine under the bonnet of the Cupra 290 models. It’s also a fleet-friendly diesel. The high-output 2.0-litre TDI has landed – and, on paper, it’s by some margin the most alluring version of an already quite alluring-looking car.

Seat has memorable precedent with hot diesel hatchbacks and can claim quite reasonably to have been among the earliest to exploit the concept. 

The original Seat Leon Cupra TDI, introduced in the early noughties, had four-wheel drive and was branded Cupra 4 TDI. That version never made it to the UK, but when the front-drive 148bhp oil-burner arrived in 2003, it found a ready following for warmer diesel-fuelled offerings.

‘Cupra’ became ‘FR TDI’ with the second-generation Leon and power rose to 168bhp, but a little of the original Leon’s dynamic magic went by the wayside. The FR was a stiffer-legged machine and five-door only.

But just how excited should up-and-coming junior managers be about this frugal and fast Seat? And should private buyers be excited, too, given the status within the Leon range that its positioning suggests?

Have we reached the tipping point where low emissions, high economy and torque-laden performance can outweigh the more vivacious fizz of a petrol performance hatch? Or do Seat's more conventional petrol and diesel options, ranging from 1.2-litre petrols to 2.0-litre diesels, still make more sense?

For the sake of your P11D, if nothing else, read on.

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • Volkswagen Golf

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
    The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Seat Leon

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    4
  • Peugeot 308

    Peugeot 308

    5

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