This Leon doesn’t quite feel like the zesty, slightly more fun-friendly member of the VW Group family hatch line-up that we’ve encountered in previous generations. It’s neat and tidy enough in its responses, with good front-end grip and intuitively paced and weighted steering that lets you guide its nose through bends with precision.
You get a pretty clear sense through the thin, firm steering wheel of how the car’s outside tyres are loading up beneath you and there’s even some scope for throttle-induced mid-corner line trimming if such things take your fancy.
But the experience is all only averagely dynamically flavoursome for the hatchback market, and past its undoubtedly well-rounded handling manners the Leon doesn’t offer much additional flare or panache to really distinguish it from its platform-mates. The eHybrid’s shunning of Seat’s lowered and stiffened spring rates is no doubt a factor here; likewise Volkswagen’s decision to sharpen up the latest Golf for handling appeal, and thereby arguably inject a degree more homogeneity into the group’s hatchback portfolio. So, too, frankly, is the added weight that this car carries, as a result of its electrified powertrain, of which you remain conscious through particularly quick directional changes and over larger vertical inputs.
For all the Leon’s competency and worthiness, in plug-in eHybrid guise it doesn’t feel quite as able to trade on a heightened sense of vim and vigour as its predecessors have. The current Ford Focus may not yet be offered with a plug socket, but on this evidence its claim to the title of being the driver’s choice in the mainstream hatchback market isn’t under any threat from the Spaniard.