What is it?
Not just a three-door version of Seat’s Leon hatchback, the SC – that’s sports coupé – has undergone subtle styling changes to give it more presence on the road. It’s also shrunk to the tune of 35mm over the five-door model.
Five engines power the range – a 1.2 and 1.8-litre TSI covering the petrol contingent and a 1.6 and 2.0-litre offering diesel alternatives. The 2.0-litre diesel, the highest powered in the range for now, comes in either 147bhp or 181bhp guise.
The 1.2-litre TSI sampled here, then, is the baby of the range. It’s still putting out 104bhp, though, indicative of Seat’s wish to portray the SC as a sporty, youthful alternative to the VW Golf and its rivals.
What's it like?
In a word, fun. Seat is very keen to use it’s new marketing slogan ‘Enjoyneering’ at every opportunity, but in the new Leon SC it’s easy to see why. German engineering meets Spanish flair, and the combination means an engaging and energetic driving experience.
The engine never feels underpowered, despite its small displacement, and pulls well through most of the rev range. There’s one or two flat spots lower down, but for the most part the 129lb ft of torque on offer is delivered cleanly and efficiently.
Our test car was coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox, though a seven-speed DSG automatic is also available as an option. The manual unit is well refined with no vibration through the stick. Changes are short and snappy, and gear ratios feel well spaced.
As with most electronically assisted units there isn’t much feel to the steering, but what starts off as a light experience in an urban environment quickly firms up on the motorway.
Inside, the Leon SC offers a comfortable and ergonomic environment with supportive seating throughout. In SE trim – thought to be the most popular option – the interior benefits from a height-adjustable front armrest and cruise control. Both are real bonuses to the experience of the SC and are worth the extra money. Seat’s integrated satellite navigation and infotainment system –available as an option - continue to shine, too.
Should I buy one?
That will depend on whether you think the Leon can match the current class king, the VW Golf. The Spanish hatch has made progress, for sure, but to my mind it’s still some way off challenging for hatchback supremacy.
That said, it’s hard to ignore the qualities of the Leon SC, and its styling and sense of purpose especially are very endearing characters. The 1.6-litre diesel is currently tipped to be the biggest seller in the range, but with a combined 57.6mpg the 1.2 TSI is hard to overlook as a fast and frugal option.
Seat Leon SC 1.2 TSI
Price £16,635; 0-62mph 10.2secs; Top speed 119mph; Economy 57.6mpg; CO2 114g/km; Kerb weight 1189kg; Engine 4 cyls, turbocharged, petrol; Power104bhp at 4500-5500rpm; Torque 129lb ft at 1400-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual