From £17,345
New three-door delivers coupé looks and promises a more dynamic drive

Our Verdict

Seat Leon SC

New three-door version of the Leon gets more stylish looks and Golf-rivalling performance

What is it?

This is, we’re told, a pre-production prototype, but the truth is that this new Seat Leon SC – the three-door Leon, and loosely a Volkswagen Scirocco rival – needs no such excuses. Nothing about this test suggests the car is anything other than ready to go on sale.

The SC (for Sports Coupé) is the first three-door Leon, and has been developed and styled to deliver on that dynamic promise. That means it’s shorter and wider than the five-door and, more significantly for its dynamic capabilities, the wheelbase is 35mm shorter.

What's it like?

The SC is just 13mm lower on the outside (a newly designed headliner retains the interior headroom of the five-door), although a sharply raked rear screen, plus the prominent side creases carried from the five-door, take care of the sporty look. It also has just enough rear seat space for two adults and the same 380 litres of boot space as the five-door.

Inside, the cabin delivers on the VW Group promise of understated quality. Some may find it dour, but the quality of materials and ease of use of the switchgear are commendable.

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

Join the debate

Comments
14

7 March 2013

I'm sorry but just because a 5 door hatchback loses 2 of it's doors, doesn't make it a coupe or 'SPORT' coupe so say the least! Coupe's are normally based on their 4 door saloon counterpart and it should stay that way!

7 March 2013

Think I may disagree with you on this one, though you could post your comment and apply it to the hump of a CLA.

Back to the Seat I think it is the first "pretty" car in quite a while, maybe the Alfa 156 was the last, I mean a car which does not look aggressive and cluttered with design elements, instead more of a simple, fun and care free style, sort of Alfasud Sprint syle or Mk 1 Scirocco, shame this Leon also has a torsion beam axle.

7 March 2013

I really like the new Leon. It looks good, drives well, is well built and is usefully cheaper than the Golf (even if it may not quite match Golf's ride, refinement and quality).

If only it's interior looked a bit less dull.

7 March 2013

... an Audi A3 in profile ... But then again, ALL VAG products are beginning to look "a bit like" each other ... I wish they would do something about their alloy wheels though ... The ones that denote "movement" might look okay on one side of the vehicle, but just look wrong on the other! ... I'm put off the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo because of this ... 

7 March 2013

Not bad looking, although the front is a little bland for Seat, looks a bit like some sort of Hybrid nonsense more than 'sporty' and I will be surprised if it turns out to be as fast as they guess.

Interior doesn't look bad, but why has it got an FR badged steering wheel? I thought that was the 'hot' badge but no other mention of FR in the review.

 

7 March 2013

The 5 door version looks so like the previous version you'd think the designers had pulled "the kings new clothes" trick on the VW board

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 March 2013

xxxx wrote:

The 5 door version looks so like the previous version you'd think the designers had pulled "the kings new clothes" trick on the VW board

It looks absolutely nothing like the old car though? If anything it's a dead ringer for the Ibiza.

I wasn't sure about the 5 door model at first, thought it was a bit bland. It's really grown on me now, looks great in white. This 3 door however is utterly bland, and at the same price as the 5 door, with less space and inferior looks, it strikes me as a bit of a waste of time!

7 March 2013

Jark wrote:

xxxx wrote:

The 5 door version looks so like the previous version you'd think the designers had pulled "the kings new clothes" trick on the VW board

It looks absolutely nothing like the old car though? If anything it's a dead ringer for the Ibiza.

I wasn't sure about the 5 door model at first, thought it was a bit bland. It's really grown on me now, looks great in white. This 3 door however is utterly bland, and at the same price as the 5 door, ...

Just re-checked and the Mk 2 does look like the MK 3.  Of course that's in my opinion and  feel free to disagree but please don't imply I'm wrong.

 

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 March 2013

I'd say unrelentingly safe, inside and out. As is common now, the claustrophobic rear is not somewhere you'd want to spend long in, which would be fine in a proper coupe, but let's face it -  this is just a 3-door hatch. It will undoubtedly be a good car, but I thought Seat were supposed to be the avant-garde branch at the lower end of the VW group.

Wide cars in a world of narrow.

7 March 2013

harmona19 wrote:

I'm sorry but just because a 5 door hatchback loses 2 of it's doors, doesn't make it a coupe or 'SPORT' coupe so say the least! Coupe's are normally based on their 4 door saloon counterpart and it should stay that way!

Have a read of this. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coupe

Coupe can mean a number of things, and Sports Coupe is even mentioned!

wiki wrote:

Sports coupé or berlinetta

A body with a sloping roof, sometimes sloping downward gradually in the rear in the manner known as fastback.

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