New common-rail diesel adds refinement to the practical warm hatch mix

What is it?

The Seat Leon TDI FR, which is the first Leon model to get a common-rail diesel engine. The new 168bhp turbodiesel joins the range above the venerable 138bhp 2.0 pumpe-duse turbodiesel.

The VW group’s six-speed twin-clutch DSG gearbox is available on the new range-topping diesel, but it’s the standard six-speed manual version of the Seat Leon TDI FR that we test here. Like the rest of the facelifted Leon range, The Leon TDI FR also gets a bigger rear window, ESP as standard, softer chassis settings and a new dash.

What’s it like?

The Seat Leon TDI FR is the vehicular equivalent of the bacon sandwich - practical, affordable and rarely disappointing. We expect a lot from a modern hot hatch, and the new Leon TDI FR is one of the most flexible real-world options around.

The new common-rail engine reduces the noise and vibration by 15 per cent over the old pumpe duse TDI FR, a point that’s evident as soon as you turn the key in the ignition

The Leon TDI FR is happy to rev to the redline, though the torquey power delivery means there’s not much point in pushing it past 3800rpm. The new common-rail unit is refined and punchy on more demanding roads, and is equally at home with motorway cruising or town driving.

The newly tweaked chassis setting also makes the Leon TDI FR a more supple drive than the pre-facelift model and, though the heavier diesel engine means that the TDI doesn’t quite have the quick-witted responses of the Leon TSI FR, it’s still an absorbing drive on the twisty stuff, living up to its hot hatch billing.

The updated cabin successfully modernises the Leon’s interior, with a new interface bringing USB iPod connectivity to the range and a better laid-out dash making it easier to use. There’s even some new seat colour options that break up the otherwise bland, but functional, cabin.

Should I buy one?

If you want a car that has the kind of pace and driveability that makes you actively choose to take the long way home while still being spacious, frugal and comfortable enough for the family holiday, then yes. The similarly priced TSI FR is the better driver’s choice, but the Seat Leon TDI FR isn’t far behind and makes an even better case for itself on the daily commute.

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JezyG 2 November 2009

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

moe360 wrote:

JezyG wrote:
The Golf GTD may ride a little better/steering feel and have a slightly better built interior it's not really 4k better in terms of cost. Roll on March 1st

Yes it is, the GTD in terms of image,percepiton, snob value, women will always be the better car. The neighbours will always go wow when they see a GTD over a Leon. No matter how good the seat is ( and i know its good car) the brand, snob factor will never go away.

Image will always remain, no matter how good Skoda have become and even if they made a car better then the S class it will never get the credit it deserves. The Seat is the same will always remain the poor brother of the Golf, shame as its a cool car

Agree brand factor is a moot point I have owned a plethora of BMW's and people always think you have alot of money or go wow. To be fair Seat's image is improving and the FL does look better than it did. But 4K for image perception to drive a GTD is still alot to pay and my wife who is a women I believe.... Thinks the Seat looks nice and is the more fun car and was the one who chose the Leon over the Golf, A3 and BMW coupe. She still dislikes Skoda's and that is the badge sadly. Seat seems to appeal to women more than it did, showed a pic of the car to a female collegue she said it looks fab too???

moe360 1 November 2009

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

JezyG wrote:
The Golf GTD may ride a little better/steering feel and have a slightly better built interior it's not really 4k better in terms of cost. Roll on March 1st

Yes it is, the GTD in terms of image,percepiton, snob value, women will always be the better car. The neighbours will always go wow when they see a GTD over a Leon. No matter how good the seat is ( and i know its good car) the brand, snob factor will never go away.

Image will always remain, no matter how good Skoda have become and even if they made a car better then the S class it will never get the credit it deserves. The Seat is the same will always remain the poor brother of the Golf, shame as its a cool car

JezyG 1 November 2009

Re: Seat Leon 2.0 TDI FR

We test drove and have ordered one yesterday. I had a MK1 Leon Cupra 1.8T which was a fun car before moving onto various 3er and 1er BM's. The FL Leon FR TDi has brought that fun factor back, suspension is still hardish but much improved and more compliant. Interior is better dual climate from the new Golf new stereo complete with USB and a more quality feel. The18" wheels kick up more noise and are a bit too firm so standard 17" are a better bet. After the FR my wife test drove a 120d Coupe and she liked that too but said it was not as much fun to drive and felt slower. The FR put a grin on your face.

With a £1900 discount bluetooth for £210 makes a very good value car overall. The Golf GTD may ride a little better/steering feel and have a slightly better built interior it's not really 4k better in terms of cost. Roll on March 1st

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