Ian Lamming takes SEAT’s latest Leon on a long journey of discovery.
I’VE a frailty, it’s my head you see and it doesn’t like the excesses of life.
A nurse once told me I have low tolerances, which I definitely would agree when it comes to people, but apparently that extends to other things physical.
It’s why I don’t drink alcohol, or eat to excess, exercise but within moderation and pace myself at work. Otherwise, it’s stinking headache time which can cause nausea and a spell in a darkened room.
With that in mind I’m conscious of the day that stretches ahead and with some trepidation. I leave at 6.30am on a three hour drive, mostly motorway. On arrival there is only time for a comfort break before jumping in another test car for six hours of solid driving on and off the road.
Then, with only time for another comfort break, it is back in the car for a three hour drive home, but this time battling through M6 rush hour traffic – eugh. That’s 12 hours of solid driving – oh my poor head, except, it’s fine.
Credit for this must surely go to the means of transport. Six hours is spent in the company of the brand new SEAT Leon and it is a cracker, especially on a long tedious journey.
Even after a shift and a half behind the wheel my body remains ache-free and so does my vulnerable head and that says an awful lot.
This particular Leon is the FR, so it errs on the side of sporty. That said, it does this without comprising comfort and the ability to go long-haul.
On the motorway it is quietness personified, wafting along with no noise from the air passing over its new set of clothes or from the spirited engine and reasonably wide tyres. Cabin ambience is relaxed and pleasant and the sophisticated infotainment looks after the navigation and the entertainment, whether that’s constantly changing radio stations or tunes courtesy of my phone Bluetoothed to Spotify.
The only slight glitch with the satnav is that it tries to send me the long way round as I near home rather than the shorter, more obvious, route. Even as I ignore the voice instructions it asks me to U-turn rather than catch on that this is the best route.
There’s generous amounts of space inside and very comfy seats. The driving position is excellent and the three hours pass by in easy enough fashion in both directions with no cramping in the shoulders, legs or pain in the bonce. It’s impressive.
Old Leon was always a favourite, particularly in FR guise. The minute it turned a wheel it just felt right and the new model adopts the same mantle.
The 1.5 litre petrol motor is smooth and willing thanks to the turbocharger so Leon is quick off the mark and has a torquey mid-range which is ideal for safe, swift overtakes. The ride is not only comfortable but is controlled and sporty with excellent levels of grip, little cabin roll and sharp steering.
The six speed manual gearbox boasts short throws for quick changes and the clutch is mercifully light. All told it’s a great driving package and it is staggeringly economical – 64mpg on the long run. Awesome!
Leon’s new look is good too. It has the SEAT family angular nose but it’s the rear that is the most striking thanks to a moulded-in brake light that stretches across the full width. It’s spectacular when illuminated and nobody can ever claim they didn’t notice you braking.
Twelve and a half hours later home looms into view again and there remains no place like it. But it’s been a great day, not a headache, and for that I must extend my thanks to the new SEAT Leon.
Seat Leon FR
0-62mph: 9.4 secs
Top speed: 130mph
Combined MPG: 51.4
Transmission: six-speed manual
CO2 g/km: 125
Price: £23,515.00 t