From £14,700
New-generation engine transforms Seat's second-hottest Leon

Our Verdict

Seat Leon 5dr hatch

Seat's third-generation Leon is attractive and capable, but it can't quite reach the benchmark set by the imperious Volkswagen Golf

What is it?

This is the new Seat Leon FR. Though the facelift is barely noticeable on the outside, the changes under the skin are much more significant.

A new turbocharged 2.0-litre engine provides 208bhp and 207lb ft of torque, while improving on the economy and emissions of the 197bhp engine in the previous Seat Leon FR.

The chassis in the Leon FR has also been tweaked and now has 20 per cent softer springs, a 15 per cent softer front anti-roll bar and a 7mm lower ride height.

Seat has also introduced a kind of electronic limited-slip differential, similar to the systems used in the Alfa Romeo Mito and the new Golf GTI. XDS works together with the ESP (now standard across the range), and uses electronics to brake either of the driven wheels if it loses traction, while diverting the engine’s torque to the other driven wheel, giving a similar effect to a mechanical limited-slip differential.

A number of changes to the interior include a new steering wheel and a more modern-looking dash with a five-inch touch screen.

What’s it like?

We tested the six-speed manual Seat Leon FR and found it faster and sharper to drive than the pre-facelift model.

The new engine hasn’t just got more power, it’s also lighter than the last unit and offers its maximum torque up from just 1700rpm right through to 5200rpm. Though the benefits of the new engine when tackling your favourite B-road are plentiful thanks to a sharper turn-in and more linear power delivery, in truth the biggest advantage is the engine’s all-round flexibility. You’ll rarely, if ever, be without ample acceleration.

The chassis is also an improvement. It still feels firm over speed bumps and can fidget over constantly uneven road surfaces, but the newly tweaked chassis offers a more serene ride overall and doesn’t detract from the Leon’s abilities as a hot hatch.

And you’ll want to try out those abilities whenever you can, because despite the levels of torque this is still a hot hatch that saves the best for the upper echelons of its rev range, where it offers its best noise and responses. Even the XDS system is a welcome addition to the Leon FR, helping to drag the car out of corners better without intruding noticeably on the driving experience.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely. The Seat Leon FR might lack the image of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, and is still hampered by very poor forward vision thanks to the wide, raked-back A-pillars but, given that the two models share the majority of their technology and the Leon is the cheaper car, there’s very little to dislike.

The new Seat Leon FR is an improvement in performance, affordability and usability over the previous Leon FR, and it will do everything you could want a hot hatch to do.

Join the debate

Comments
18

1 April 2009

Wow! That is some colour. How come the CO2 is 20 higher than the Golf GTI?

1 April 2009

Interior looks much better...

1 April 2009

I suppose the main issue is price here - this looks like a good car but it will have to be a fair bit cheaper than the VW Golf GTi Mk6 to sell.

1 April 2009

[quote Audi Tastic]but it will have to be a fair bit cheaper than the VW Golf GTi Mk6 to sell.[/quote] I've just been looking at the VW web-site and "configuring" a Golf GTI, you probably won't be surprised to know that it is really easy to get the list price for the GTI well into the £29,000 arena without being too extravagant with the options list. Add SatNav, parking sensors, folding mirrors and rear camera, winter pack of heated seats, headlamp washers and heated screenwasher nozzles, the 18" alloys and hey presto £29000+ appears, and that's a three door DSG boxed car with out leather upholstery or other frippery. I guess you'd save quite a bit with this SEAT.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

1 April 2009

The new interior changes looks much better then the last models, the pre-face lift models interior looked so cheap, in the pictures this new one looks great.

1 April 2009

Looks like a useful update. I have an FR currently, and the interior (festival of silver painted plastic) and ride (firmer than neccessary for UK roads) are the least satisfactory parts of an otherwise compelling 17k package. As a fan of 1985 - 2000 era Peugeots which flowed down the road, I'm pleased that SEAT have recognised that firmer isn't always better, so the suspension modifications are particularly welcome. The engine was already a high point (as happy to lug at 1500 as it is to rev to 6500), so gaining more power and flexibility is the icing on the cake.

Overall, take a Golf GTI, add more equipment, make the styling more adventurous, and take 5k off the price. What's not to like.... (apart from silver painted plastic.....)

1 April 2009

Couldn't agree more. LOVE fast Seats. A well designed, sorted and keenly priced driver's car. Wallop.

____________________

www.iamnotthestig.com

1 April 2009

[quote jbroadis]I have an FR currently, [/quote]

What are the running costs like?

1 April 2009

[quote moe360]What are the running costs like?
[/quote]

Fuel Economy depends on conditions - I get 32mpg average (mid 20s in traffic, almost 40 at moderate motorway speeds, high 20s when hacking it). Servicing is frequent at 10k intervals (why no variable servicing like VW?) but not too bad. I'm paying 350 for insurance. Overall not too bad.

1 April 2009

[quote jbroadis]Fuel Economy depends on conditions - I get 32mpg average (mid 20s in traffic, almost 40 at moderate motorway speeds, high 20s when hacking it). Servicing is frequent at 10k intervals (why no variable servicing like VW?) but not too bad. I'm paying 350 for insurance. Overall not too bad.[/quote]

Thats cool thanks for the information, have you ever driven FR TDI 170? i was thinking of getting that but after looking at the interior it put me off. Now with the new version it looks a lot better. 350 insurance seems good, i got a quote from my local insurance agent who deals with all my dads cars for £1125.00 i still think its good for my age as iam 21

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Hyundai Kona
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Hyundai's funky-looking Kona crossover with a peppy three-cylinder engine makes all the right noises for the car to be a success in a crowded segment
  • Citroën C3 Aircross
    First Drive
    17 October 2017
    The Citroen C3 Aircross has got funky looks and a charming interior, but it's another small SUV, and another dynamic miss. Numb steering is just one thing keeping it from class best
  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer
  • Citroën C3
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Is the third gen Citroën C3 ‘fresh and different’ enough to take on its supermini rivals? We spend six months with one to find out