The 138bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre engine is smooth and packed with mid-range pull, delivering both perky performance and decent real-world fuel economy. Seat is keeping back the official figures for now but, based on the five-door’s stats, a 0-62mph time of around 8.1sec is expected, paired with official combined economy of more than 50mpg. The manual gearbox has a slick action and the ratios are sensibly spaced.
It all combines promisingly with accurate steering that goes from being a touch too light around town to weighting up reassuringly with speed. The Leon's steering has been tinkered with to give the SC a more sporty feel, and overall it must be considered a success. Combined with its short wheelbase, wide tracks and low centre of gravity, the SC is a joy to drive in the twisties – even with an old-fashioned torsion beam at the back.
Surprisingly, this sporty set-up doesn’t appear to come at the expense of ride comfort, although our test route was over predominantly smooth Spanish roads. If these first impressions stand the test of time, Seat has transferred its trick from the five-door of pulling off a set-up that is both sporty and comfortable enough for everyday driving.
Should I buy one?
The only conclusion that can be drawn is that this is a very fine car indeed. As with the five-door, Seat has demonstrated the confidence to go its own way within the VW Group structure and execute its own interpretation of a theme with impressive confidence.
Word is that the price differential compared with the five-door won’t be as favourable as is often the case, and that the SC will come in at the same price. But even that’s unlikely to dent the three-door’s appeal.
Seat Leon SC 1.4 TSI 140
Price: £18,000 (est); 0-62mph: 8.1sec (est); Top speed: 131mph (est); Economy: 54.3mpg (est); CO2: 119g/km (est); Kerb weight: 1211kg (est); Engine: 4 cyls, 1395cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power: 138bhp at 4500-6000rpm; Torque: 184lb ft at 1500-3500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual