Mark Tisshaw
12 July 2011

What is it?

The turbocharged 1.2 TSI petrol engine fitted under the bonnet of this Seat Leon is the smallest engine Seat will sell you in its five-door family hatchback.

Volkswagen Group is at the forefront of downsized engine technology and this engine aims to offer you both performance and economy benefits. It produces a respectable 104bhp and 129lb ft, while also offering 52.3mpg claimed combined economy and 124g/km CO2 emissions.

Throw in a glut of standard equipment in this SE Copa model - including a sat-nav and multimedia system, rear parking sensors, special Copa upholstery, dual zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers and leather trim for the steering wheel - and, on paper at least, this Leon looks to offer a very compelling overall package.

What’s it like?

Where it really scores is on refinement. The engine rewards you for driving it smoothly and there is no aural feedback to suggest you’re giving the downsized engine a good thrashing in everyday situations, even if you sometimes need to to make progress when off the motorway. A sixth forward ratio for the slick manual gearbox is welcome to further boost the refinement on longer motorway runs.

But it is an economy issue that is this Leon’s biggest failing. We rarely achieved above 35mpg on our test route, which included everything from two long motorway runs, country lanes, city centres and heavy traffic. Official economy figures aren’t usually to be trusted, but the distance from the official 52.3mpg figure is a long way off even allowing for this.

Off the line, the engine tends to feel a bit sluggish, as it does again near the top of its rev range. But there’s enough mid-range shove (peak torque arrives at 1550rpm) to prevent the car from being called gutless.

Elsewhere, the Leon rides, handles and steers with competence. It feels a good deal lighter at the front-end than some of the larger diesel-engined Leons in the range. But there’s not enough feedback from the handling or steering for any real involvement that even more ordinary versions of rivals from Ford and Alfa Romeo can muster.

Should I buy one?

We’d recommend you looked elsewhere in the Leon range for a better all-rounder. The 1.6 TDI Ecomotive is a premium of around £700 over this 1.2 TSI model in the impressive SE Copa trim, but it offers considerably better economy and will also cost you less to tax. Performance is comparable between the two cars, too.

Seat Leon 1.2 TSI SE Copa

Price: £16,940; Top speed: 115mph; 0-62mph: 11.0sec; Economy: 52.3mpg combined; CO2: 124g/km; Kerb weight: 1280kg; Engine: 4cyl, 1197cc, turbocharged petrol; Power: 104bhp at 5000rpm; Torque: 129lb ft at 1550rpm; Gearbox: 6spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
22

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI Copa

3 years 6 weeks ago

Autocar wrote:
And it is an economy issue that is this Leon’s biggest failing. We rarely achieved above 35mpg on our test route, which included everything from two long motorway runs, country lanes, city centres and heavy traffic. Official economy figures aren’t usually to be trusted, but the distance from the official 52.3mpg figure is a long way off even allowing for this.
This is a common problem these days. My smart is supposed to get over 60mpg, but I get about 45ish on average. If I drive in eco mode, I can match that, but no one drive likes that. The 500 twinair suffers the same, from what I hear, the iQ does. Maybe it is time to change the tests to be more realistic?

-----

10 years of Smart ownership over, sensible car mode activated

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI Copa

3 years 6 weeks ago

Autocar wrote:
We’d recommend you looked elsewhere in the Leon range for a better all-rounder. The 1.6 TDI Ecomotive is a premium of around £700 over this 1.2 TSI model in the impressive SE Copa trim, but it offers considerably better economy and will also cost you less to tax.

Cars like this aren't aimed necessarily at the fleet or company market. This is also the sort of car that is chosen by private buyers who do short distance, stop start type trips - the sort of trips where cars fitted with DPF's have problems.

For that purpose, it is a far better car than the diesel model.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI Copa

3 years 6 weeks ago

My 1 month old FR TSi 211 has managed an average of 35mpg and a high of 41mpg on a long run recently with the same lump from the Golf GTi. I put it partly down to excellent low end torque meaning very few rev's needed to make swift progress.

Another 1.2 TSi Leon owner has also reported the same disappointing figures seems it may be working a little too hard in the Leon, 1.4 TSi is a much better option IMO or 1.6 TDi as stated by Autocar.

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI Copa

3 years 6 weeks ago

Too lardy. It's that simple.

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI Copa

3 years 6 weeks ago

Velvet Munchkin wrote:
Too lardy. It's that simple.
That is the easy answer, although basically you are right. The real problem, surely, lies in manufacturers trying to reconcile too many EU directives on every aspect of building a car in their muddleheaded efforts to legislate for better fuel economy, lower CO2 emissions, more safety equipment, better crash resistance etc etc - far too many detailed rules on any and every aspect of everything, just pointless meddling by overpaid and power-hungry bureaucrats and politicians, most of whom could never even get an interview (never mind a job) with any proper business enterprise. What we need to do is stop the pointless chase after zero road casualties, realise that zero emissions of CO2 won't solve any climate changes matters whilst geological and natural activities continue on earth (to say nothing of the effect of our nearest star) and get back to building lighter and more agile cars that are less complicated so that they have longer lives and aren't only fit for scrap after ten years because a faulty computer chip cannot be replaced.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI Copa

3 years 6 weeks ago

The consumption figure sounds about right given the Seat's power and weight, engine size is largely irrelevant. The EU test figure merely suggests that very good economy might be possible if you drive this car slow enough. I can't help thinking that taxing cars according to their CO2 figure in an arbitrary and artificial test isn't the way to make progress. I think taxation by kerb weight would be far easier to police and might ultimately achieve better results.

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI Copa

3 years 6 weeks ago

If you had managed to find 6th gear and use it occasionally you might just have helped the economy!

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI Copa

3 years 6 weeks ago

nickl wrote:
If you had managed to find 6th gear and use it occasionally you might just have helped the economy!
Think Autocar have made a mistake!!

"The five-speed ‘box is slick, although a sixth forward ratio would be welcome to further boost the refinement and economy on longer motorway runs."

Only the 1.6 TDI and 1.4 85 have a 5 speed box 1.2 TSi has a six speed!!!

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI Copa

3 years 6 weeks ago

Economy figures have always been slightly suspect but there seems to be an increasing difference between quoted figures and what can be achieved in reality with modern cars. Start-stop options only serve to skew the numbers even further.

It is a concern since many people use mpg figures in their buying decisions (families on a budget for example) and it's one of the things you can't really test for when you go on test drives.

I get the feeling that manufacturers are eeking out every last little bit of mpg they can, using any means possible, in order to print it in the brochure now that the market demands improved economy. Seldom do many cars manage it however.

I find that some older cars around Euro3 and Euro 4 emissions regulations were much closer to their claimed figures even though now you'd pay higher tax for them.

My Ibiza 20vt is only a couple of mpg off the claimed average (32 vs 35.8 claimed over last 4k miles) and a friend of mine used to get similar returns from his.

Two friends who have Mk4 golf 130TDI and Bora 130TDI will get around 52mpg consistently and another friends old 530d (184hp version) will do a motorway run at 49mpg.

I'm starting to wonder if modern emission systems actually choking engines too much and being a hinderance rather than a help to fuel consumption? After all emissions regs are legislation driven and therefore the car industry has to meet them - it doesn't necessarily mean that the engineering teams agree that it is the correct technical direction.

Anonymous

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI Copa

3 years 6 weeks ago

I think that manufactures just say that the car can do X mpg, but realistically they achieve 5-10 mpg less in real world driving conditions. I've been in a Citroen C3 1.1 which apparently does 47 mpg combined, but the trip computer said it averaged 40. I know that they are not always reliable, but I think that there should be stricter rules because manufactures are being too lenient.

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Our Verdict

Leon

Seat's third-generation Leon is attractive and capable, but it can't quite match the best this class can offer

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