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Seat Leon

8/10
Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: Seat Leon

£18,645£32,250

Driving

What is it like on the road?

The Leon uses the same MQB architecture as the new Mk8 Golf… which is largely the same as the Mk7 Golf… which the previous Leon also used. Long story short, you’ll find no significant changes to the basic hardware. Instead, most things in the suspension and powertrains (again, shared with its Volkswagen counterpart) are gently improved and finessed to bring them up to new emissions standards and to add a bit of extra comfort and refinement.

And there’s plenty of engines to choose from. You can have petrol, diesel, and two flavours of hybrids; one you have to plug-in, but with better eco-numbers, and one that you don’t. Soon, there’ll be a Cupra go-faster hot hatch quick version. We’re looking forward to that – it should be a cracker.

But we drove the 1.5-litre TSI. It comes in 130 or 150bhp setups, and ours was the 130 with a slick six-speed manual in sportier ‘FR’ trim. It’s the middling trim and adds a few extras to make it look properly smart; 17-inch alloy wheels, faux dual exhaust pipes and a unique suspension set-up that’s 15mm lower in ride height than other trims. How deportivo.

It’s a smooth, quiet and reasonably economical engine but suffers from lag low down, which means you have to play around the ‘box to be in the right gear to be in the powerband. No bad thing, as it’s a lovely direct gearbox to use. Don’t fret if changing gear isn’t your thing. There’s also a clutchless DSG available too, one that can be paired with the 48v mild hybrid system (which will switch off when you’re coasting and use battery charge to power the electricals) in the more powerful 150bhp 1.5-litre engine.

On the road the Leon feels light on its feet, with a crisp turn-in and decent enough ride from the twist-beam rear suspension – even on the larger wheels. It’s not easily deflected down a broken road and is comfortable at a cruise, even though the cabin is a bit noisier than a Golf. But if you want to go fast, we’d recommend waiting for the Cupra – mainly because the brakes can’t handle much enthused driving without the pedal wilting to the floor.

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