What is it?

The Seat Leon TDI FR, which is the first Leon model to get a common-rail diesel engine. The new 168bhp turbodiesel joins the range above the venerable 138bhp 2.0 pumpe-duse turbodiesel.

The VW group’s six-speed twin-clutch DSG gearbox is available on the new range-topping diesel, but it’s the standard six-speed manual version of the Seat Leon TDI FR that we test here. Like the rest of the facelifted Leon range, The Leon TDI FR also gets a bigger rear window, ESP as standard, softer chassis settings and a new dash.

What’s it like?

The Seat Leon TDI FR is the vehicular equivalent of the bacon sandwich - practical, affordable and rarely disappointing. We expect a lot from a modern hot hatch, and the new Leon TDI FR is one of the most flexible real-world options around.

The new common-rail engine reduces the noise and vibration by 15 per cent over the old pumpe duse TDI FR, a point that’s evident as soon as you turn the key in the ignition

The Leon TDI FR is happy to rev to the redline, though the torquey power delivery means there’s not much point in pushing it past 3800rpm. The new common-rail unit is refined and punchy on more demanding roads, and is equally at home with motorway cruising or town driving.

The newly tweaked chassis setting also makes the Leon TDI FR a more supple drive than the pre-facelift model and, though the heavier diesel engine means that the TDI doesn’t quite have the quick-witted responses of the Leon TSI FR, it’s still an absorbing drive on the twisty stuff, living up to its hot hatch billing.

The updated cabin successfully modernises the Leon’s interior, with a new interface bringing USB iPod connectivity to the range and a better laid-out dash making it easier to use. There’s even some new seat colour options that break up the otherwise bland, but functional, cabin.

Should I buy one?

If you want a car that has the kind of pace and driveability that makes you actively choose to take the long way home while still being spacious, frugal and comfortable enough for the family holiday, then yes. The similarly priced TSI FR is the better driver’s choice, but the Seat Leon TDI FR isn’t far behind and makes an even better case for itself on the daily commute.

Vicky Parrott

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Comments
13

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

5 years 33 weeks ago

Looks like a good alternateive to the rather pricey VW Golf GTD.

Are you sure the 140 bhp diesel is the old PD variant?

I thought that was purely the 1.9 TDi and all 2009 VW group 2.0 TDi engines are now CR engines, regardless of whether they are 140 or 170 bhp?

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

5 years 33 weeks ago

The old 1.9 TDi PD only got as high as the 130BHP flavour, whereas the 2.0TDi PD was available in either 140 or 170BHP, the latter being in the previous Leon FR.

My MK1 Leon TDi SE has the 1.9TDi 130PD engine and it's always punchy yet refined enough at cruising speeds on the motorway. After 5 1/2 years of ownership and 110K miles I may just be tempted by the new FR - if the company move me up a grade which qualifies for car allowance! :o)

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

5 years 33 weeks ago

Orangewheels wrote:

Are you sure the 140 bhp diesel is the old PD variant?

Yes it is. Only VW and Audi cars have made a complete switch to the 2.0 TDi common-rail.

Check out the new Skoda Superb. The 140bhp is still the PD model. The 170bhp is CR. Its all to do with the great VAG heirachy. The 'lesser' brands dont get the new techonology for a while after the 'premium' brands.

This also explains why the new Seat Ibiza has such old gutless engines - The VW Polo and Audi A1 must get the lastest TSi engines first.

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

5 years 33 weeks ago

Seems like a great car for Fabia Vrs fans who are seeking to upgrade- bigger kids, bigger self, bigger dog- please pick. The Leon seems very similar, according to the review- practical, rapid, relatively discreet (though still with some subtle sporty looks), and with "livable" suspension settings- sporty enough handling without bone-crunching ride- all similar to the Fabia Vrs.

As Skoda are reportedly selling their new Fabia Vrs (when they eventually get around to launching it) at a significantly higher list price, with standard spec rumoured to be stingey (however plenty of costly options available- yes!!) and also apparently refusing to offer diesel power (Golf GT sourced 1.4 turbo petrol instead, despite the surprising popularity of the original diesel-only Fabia Vrs), the Leon FR diesel looks very tempting. I've read on other sites various Fabia Vrs fans speaking favourably about the Leon FR diesel even prior to the mid-life modifications (that's the one with the 1980s-style Brittish Rail bone-shaker type ride).

Also remember that the current second generation Fabia is based on the original Fabia chassis, but with increased height (up 47mm in standard models) on the bodywork- both factors probably not causing Renaultsport's handling department to lose any sleep!! Personally, I would love to see the new Faiba Vrs with similar suspension settings (everyday compromise setting- firmish but not too firm) to the last one (shouldn't be too hard as its on the same chassis...) and the new CR 170 bhp 2.0 diesel- Octavia Vrs-smashing performance!! That would make a refined, high-performance, GT-style pocket-rocket!! Skoda could even launch a Fabia Vrs estate?!! No, my medication has not run out- the standard Octavia is about as exciting as a soggy bag of chips but in Vrs guise has still sold well as both hatch and estate.

PS - Can't believe suggesting a Fabia Vrs estate- Doctor, where are the pills!!

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

5 years 33 weeks ago

eenymac wrote:
The old 1.9 TDi PD only got as high as the 130BHP flavour

150 actually. That was in the mark IV Golf GT-TDI PD 150.

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

5 years 33 weeks ago

simonali wrote:
150 actually. That was in the mark IV Golf GT-TDI PD 150.

Yep, forgot the MK1 FR had the PD150 as well. I still think the 1.9 130PD is a superb engine - ok, a little coarse when cold but huge amounts of torque for those steep uphill overtaking blasts that seem to leave others behind. :o)

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

5 years 33 weeks ago

Seat Ibiza Cupra 160HP 1.9TDI

Leaves room for Seat Leon Cupra TDI Twin Turbo 200HP

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

5 years 33 weeks ago

Seems like a useful series of updates. Also looks as if this one will avoid the £1.5k price hike that VW is applying to the equivalent Golf.

Well done Seat!

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

5 years 32 weeks ago

Seems like a great car for Fabia Vrs fans who are seeking to upgrade- bigger kids, bigger self, bigger dog- please pick. The Leon seems very similar, according to the review- practical, rapid, relatively discreet (though still with some subtle sporty looks), and with "livable" suspension settings- sporty enough handling without bone-crunching ride- all similar to the Fabia Vrs.

As one of those vRS owners, although not looking for something bigger, I'd consider a Leon except for one serious flaw. I really don't like the blind spot from the huge sloping windsreen pillars.

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

5 years 32 weeks ago

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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

Driven this week