Ian Lamming plugs-in to the benefits of SEAT’s latest hybrid Leon.
THIS car virtually drives itself – which is a bit of a shame as it is really great to drive yourself.
Seat Leons have always been at the head of the pack in terms of enjoyment but the latest plug-in hybrid is something else.
Let it take the strain and it is happy to take over the steering, keeping you safely between the white lines, cruising along the highways while the radar monitors other road users, and it even slows you down without having to use the brakes.
Lift off the throttle as you enter a town or village, or if you need to adjust your speed for other road users, and it slows noticeably without having to touch the pedal. Never have I actively braked so little as this Leon seems to know what speed you should be travelling.
What it is actually doing is reaping and harvesting the kinetic energy produced by movement and braking and sending that to the electric motor and battery arrangements. It’s way beyond my tiny brain but that doesn’t really matter. As a driver you don’t need to know how it works just that it does and it does this brilliantly well.
The result is effortless power and staggering economy. Petrol and electric work together in perfect harmony, switching between carbon contributing petrol to squeaky clean current depending on driving conditions. When requested they also work together with a vengeance – how else would a modest 1.4 litre petrol engine have access to 204PS?
Paper figures claim economy of between 217.3 – 235.4mpg; wouldn’t that be lovely. In reality, you can expect to see the trip computer boasting, 60, 70 and even 80 when it comes to miles per gallon and a CO2 figure of virtually fresh air – well, 27g/km CO2 anyway. It’s a combination that gives me a warm fuzzy glow in my wallet.
Being a SEAT you also get great driving dynamics with a comfortable yet sporty ride, amazing levels of grip and sure-footedness and an incredibly quick-shifting, smooth DSG gearbox, it really is the best.
New Leon looks smart too with the now familiar angular nose and a rear showing off one of the largest brake lights on the market. It is fresh, contemporary and very tidy and in silver also offers under-the-radar stealth-like ability you might need to avoid vagabonds and thieves.
Inside is clean-cut, modern and well-equipped with the latest touchscreen infotainment system, satnav and Bluetooth wizardry to keep the young tech-minded happy while not bamboozling the more mature. Controls, virtual dash and touchscreen are easy enough to use.
Leon PHEV is another cracking SEAT motor with boundless capabilities and a skillset that allows the driver to choose how much involvement in the journey they require. A driver’s car, most certainly, but if you only want to be a passenger it will do that for you as well.
SEAT Leon e-HYBRID FR
Engine: 1.5 petrol/electric
0-62mph: 7.5 secs
Top speed: 137mph
Combined MPG: 217
Transmission: DSG auto
CO2 g/km: 27