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Seat Leon FR Car Review | 5 December 2006

Driven December 2006

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Why does the world assume we're all a bit dim? The same logic that dictates a packet of peanuts needs 'May contain nuts' scrawled over it - presumably in case you suffer a massive attack of amnesia between buying your snack and opening it - has hit Seat.

More specifically, it's hit the Leon FR: the first petrol Seat to get VW's DSG six-speed 'box.

In automatic mode, the DSG does its job with aplomb, flipping between cogs with seamless pace: upshifts take just eight milliseconds, which is 19 times quicker than an Enzo (and a top pub fact, too). But flick a paddle to engage manual mode and the idiot police descend.

Foot to the floor, the redline nears and the DSG seems to think, 'Jeez, I wonder if he's fallen asleep at the wheel/got his right arm trapped in a hedge/completely forgotten how to drive? Guess I'd better change up'. So it does. Just before you do. To protect itself.

OK, all VW DSG units do this, but I don't like it. It's fine on a pottering diesel, but the FR is all fat side-skirts and scowling spoilers. It looks like it needs a thrashing, but the gearbox won't quite let you do it, using its own brain at the first possible opportunity.

If Seat trusted that its drivers don't have the attention span of a dim goldfish, the FR DSG could be an epic little hot hatch. As it is, the Leon is too nut-free.

Sam Philip

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