From £14,700
Pursuit of better emissions has compromised the overall package

Our Verdict

Seat Leon
Seat offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

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

21 August 2010

What is it?

Seat's eco flagship has had some substantial changes under the bonnet.

Gone is the 1.9 TDI unit; in its place is VW Group’s 1.6 TDI, complete with 99g/km CO2 emissions, a 20g/km improvement over the old model. That means you won’t have to pay for a tax disc.

But there are other changes that help the Leon drop below 100g/km. All the usual eco boxes are ticked here, including stop-start and aerodynamic tweaks to help keep fuel bills down.

See test pics of the Seat Leon Ecomotive

What's it like?

However, these tweaks have taken some of the sparkle off the Leon’s solid, if not spectacular, package.

The Leon’s Golf roots are evident in the way it drives – it’s competent, without ever really raising a smile. But whereas the Ecomotive’s sister car, the Golf Bluemotion, offers the same economy benefits, it does so without compromise. That isn’t the case here.

Despite a healthy 184lb ft of torque at 1500rpm, the Ecomotive feels gutless once you’re moving and accelerating through the gears. Taller ratios sap power and you often have to drop back down to first in traffic or town to prevent kangarooing.

Claimed economy is 74.3mpg, but on our test route, the Leon managed just over 50mpg. Economy is undoubtedly harmed by the need for a hard push on the accelerator to help keep up with traffic. The figure we achieved is still respectable, but disappointing, given Seat’s claims.

What can’t be criticised is the Ecomotive’s cost. You get a lot of car for your money: the Leon is spacious, well equipped and comfortable.

Should I buy one?

This Ecomotive version is cheap to run and to buy. But our advice is to save a few hundred pounds and go for a standard 1.6 TDI or 1.4 TSI instead.

Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 105 S

Price: £16,840; Top speed: 118mph; 0-62mph: 11.5sec; Economy: 74.3mpg (combined); CO2: 99g/km; Engine: 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power: 104bhp; Torque: 184lb ft; Gearbox: 5-spd manual

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Join the debate

Comments
19

26 August 2010

Having driven a couple of these 1.6D engined Vag cars now I'm amazed that none of the road tests seem to pick up how infuriatingly gutless it is, feeling very very underpowered - something the old 1.9tdi 105 never did, even when used in the larger cars i.e passat.

26 August 2010

I have been driving a Seat Leon for the last couple of days as a hire car and done about 800 miles in it.

I was interested to try the combination of German engineering and Meditteranean style, surely the best of both worlds and a true winner.........

The result was truly disappointing and the car was neither fish nor fowl. The cheap and nasty stereo panel looked like it belonged to a 1970 calculator and contrasted nastily with the smart instruments. The pointless vertical park wipers, small glass area and totally invisible nose made it very difficult to park and the car displayed no noticeable sporting appeal. A rough engine and rubbery gearbox sealed its fate.

This was a 9000 mile car in good condition so I assumed it was as it should be.

A decent stereo and comfortable seats redeemed it some points but I walked away thinking what is the point of this cars or indeed SEATS continued existence?

26 August 2010

I know it was mentioned but it wasn't made out to be a huge problem and i've read other reviews of the leons' sister cars where the lack of power is never really brought up as an issue at all (despite it being the exact same engine). The old 1.9tdi punched well above it's weight in terms of performance 'feel' but this engine is quite honestly pathetic. It really would stop me owning any VAG 1.6D car.

The 1.6tdci in the focus is a far superior engine(shame about the interior rattles and squeaks), and the 116d's just blows this away(shame if you need any real rear room). In my opinion, obviously.

26 August 2010

[quote rodenal] The old 1.9tdi punched well above it's weight in terms of performance 'feel' but this engine is quite honestly pathetic. It really would stop me owning any VAG 1.6D car.[/quote]

I know what you mean but in fairness the VW a lot of the latest diesels that don't deliver their power all in one lump like the old 1.9 does feel like that.

[quote rodenal]and the 116d's just blows this away[/quote]

That's a 2.0ltr engine isn't it?

26 August 2010

[quote Lee23404]That's a 2.0ltr engine isn't it?[/quote]

It is to be fair but it's punted as a similar entry level, eco model in the range

Also you're correct on the way the power is delivered in most diesels now, but there is a definite performance difference between this new engine and the old 1.9tdi. It seems far more in line with 1.4/1.3 diesel levels of performance, which to me is not powerful enough for a car the golf/leon/a3's size. It would probably work well in a car like the last shape polo for example.

26 August 2010

[quote rodenal] but there is a definite performance difference between this new engine and the old 1.9tdi.[/quote]

I'll take your word for it because i haven't driven the latest VW 1.6tdi, yet.

I agree with you on the 1.6tdci. I have the same engine in my C5 Tourer and it does just fine. In a smaller, lighter car like the Focus it must be great.

26 August 2010

It's a great engine, manages to be keen enough and very economical too. I had the 2 litre tdci in my focus and it was a waste of time, 43mpg and not honestly that much more usable power.

26 August 2010

[quote Sterile]I cannot understand all this hatred, this is sick.[/quote]

its not hatred, its a love of Cars.

I have owned SEATS in the past including quite excellent Ibiza`s that managed to hide there VW origins very well and shows some proper Med style and character.

The currelt Leon, at least the one i drove, was a very thinly redressed Golf, and whilst I am an acknowledged disliker of VW product you may as well have a Golf.

SEAT need to find a proper identity for themselves and quickly, rebadging Audi`s will do the brand even more damage no matter how good the car actually is.

Come on SEAT , or more likely come on VW, give your Spanish brand room to breath - or they will suffocate.

26 August 2010

[quote jonfortwo]

I have been driving a Seat Leon for the last couple of days as a hire car and done about 800 miles in it.

I was interested to try the combination of German engineering and Meditteranean style, surely the best of both worlds and a true winner.........

The result was truly disappointing and the car was neither fish nor fowl. The cheap and nasty stereo panel looked like it belonged to a 1970 calculator and contrasted nastily with the smart instruments. The pointless vertical park wipers, small glass area and totally invisible nose made it very difficult to park and the car displayed no noticeable sporting appeal. A rough engine and rubbery gearbox sealed its fate.

This was a 9000 mile car in good condition so I assumed it was as it should be.

A decent stereo and comfortable seats redeemed it some points but I walked away thinking what is the point of this cars or indeed SEATS continued existence?

[/quote]

The thing to ask was it the FL version or Pre FL? As the FL version has addressed many of the quality issues and looks and feels a much nicer place to be, being a little less drab as well. Still not perfect by any menas but much bettter. The standard stereo which is fiddly at first is very good once you get use to it standard USB works a treat as does optional bluetooth. Along with the rotary climate controls from the Golf feels and looks much better in the quality stakes on par with a Foucs I would say.

Move onto the excellent CR 2 litre 170 TDi or 1.4 TSi and the car is so much smoother and a much better drive. Wipers actually clear a wider area than normal wipers look very neat as are hidden when not in use, maybe not everyone's taste.

26 August 2010

When the wipers were on Intermittent (sadly all too often in the UK) they stopped short of the pillar and sat there until the next sweep, effectively making the pillar blindspot wider. Only when switched off did they clamp back into the pillar recess.

To me a slim pillar is more effective to lessen the possibility of hitting any pedestrians than hidden wipers should you be unfortunate enough to come into contact one. I am not convinced of there merit.

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