Three-door 'coupé' version of the Leon gets an extra dose of style and sophistication

What is it?

Not just a three-door version of Seat’s Seat Leon hatchback, the SC – that’s sports coupé – has undergone subtle styling changes to give it more presence on the road. It’s also shrunk to the tune of 35mm over the five-door model. 

Five engines power the range – a 1.2 and 1.8-litre TSI covering the petrol contingent and a 1.6 and 2.0-litre offering diesel alternatives. The 2.0-litre diesel, the highest powered in the range for now, comes in either 147bhp or 181bhp guise.

The 1.2-litre TSI sampled here, then, is the baby of the range. It’s still putting out 104bhp, though, indicative of Seat’s wish to portray the SC as a sporty, youthful alternative to the VW Golf and its rivals.

What's it like?

In a word, fun. Seat is very keen to use it’s new marketing slogan ‘Enjoyneering’ at every opportunity, but in the new Leon SC it’s easy to see why. German engineering meets Spanish flair, and the combination means an engaging and energetic driving experience.

The engine never feels underpowered, despite its small displacement, and pulls well through most of the rev range. There’s one or two flat spots lower down, but for the most part the 129lb ft of torque on offer is delivered cleanly and efficiently.

Our test car was coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox, though a seven-speed DSG automatic is also available as an option. The manual unit is well refined with no vibration through the stick. Changes are short and snappy, and gear ratios feel well spaced.

As with most electronically assisted units there isn’t much feel to the steering, but what starts off as a light experience in an urban environment quickly firms up on the motorway.

Inside, the Leon SC offers a comfortable and ergonomic environment with supportive seating throughout. In SE trim – thought to be the most popular option – the interior benefits from a height-adjustable front armrest and cruise control. Both are real bonuses to the experience of the SC and are worth the extra money. Seat’s integrated satellite navigation and infotainment system –available as an option - continue to shine, too.

Should I buy one?

That will depend on whether you think the Leon can match the current class king, the Volkswagen Golf. The Spanish hatch has made progress, for sure, but to my mind it’s still some way off challenging for hatchback supremacy.

That said, it’s hard to ignore the qualities of the Leon SC, and its styling and sense of purpose especially are very endearing characters. The 1.6-litre diesel is currently tipped to be the biggest seller in the range, but with a combined 57.6mpg the 1.2 TSI is hard to overlook as a fast and frugal option.

Seat Leon SC 1.2 TSI

Price £16,635; 0-62mph 10.2secs; Top speed 119mph; Economy 57.6mpg; CO2 114g/km; Kerb weight 1189kg; Engine 4 cyls, turbocharged, petrol; Power104bhp at 4500-5500rpm; Torque 129lb ft at 1400-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Add a comment…
n50pap 3 August 2013

I must say....the 3 door Leon does appeal!

I got a mail-shot for the Leon this morning and the 3 door does look good.  I'd go for the 1.2TSI, if only because it's cheap to tax and quite nippy enough for my motoring needs.  The SE spec looks fine and quietly understated, which I prefer.

Tom Chet 29 July 2013

Looks good, £2K less than the Golf

Drive the deal will knock £3K off the price of a 3 door Leon 1.2TSI S, bringing the price down to £12646.  They will cut the price of a 3 door Golf 1.2TSI S by £1800 to £14684.

There are obviously lots of arguments re. the quality/competence of the cars, but to my eyes the Leon looks an intriguing option.

Will86 27 July 2013

Pictures Aren't Right

Just checked the Seat website. You can't get a 1.2 TSi in FR trim. Which is a shame because the S and SE trims don't look nearly as good.

Suzuki QT 28 July 2013

Hmmm ...

Will86 wrote:

Just checked the Seat website. You can't get a 1.2 TSi in FR trim. Which is a shame because the S and SE trims don't look nearly as good.

Autocar also failed to mention the 1.4 TSI (I thought the petrol options of 1.2 TSI jumping to 1.8 TSI looked odd) ... Accordingly to SEAT, the base "S" model is restricted to 1.2 TSI and 1.6 TDI (both manual only), the "SE" adds the auto option to the 1.2 TSI and the 1.4 TSI (manual only) along with 1.6 TDI and 2.0 TDI (both manual and auto), the "FE" adds the 1.8 TSI (manual and auto) along with manual only 1.4 TSI and the higher-powered 2.0 TDI ...

Another comment added that VW restricts their auto option to the 5-door variant of the Golf (unless you go for the extravagantly-priced GTD/GTi), something I've noticed creeping in with other manufacturers ... Is this spelling the end of the reasonably-priced 3-door auto (for those of us who don't have children)?? ...