► Small brushstrokes update for SEAT Leon
► New front end, tech and pair of engines
► UK finally gets spicy 1.0-litre petrol triple
It might not be immediately obvious but this is the facelifted Seat Leon – which features a collection of small improvements aimed at driving the three-year-old hatchback from the Ateca’s zeitgeisty shadow.
As well as two updated motors, the facelift also includes a load of kit lifted from the above SUV, plus a remodelled front end.
Err, it doesn’t look any different...
You’re quite right; some more of that if it ain’t broke approach we saw in the eight-generation Golf update has been applied here. That’s no bad thing though – badge snobbery aside, the Leon has long been the best and most intriguingly styled VW Group hatchback.
So, this latest version features a remodelled bumper and grille, plus the option of adding LED headlights, front fog lights and indicators – now offering the same second-sun brightness as those in the Ateca.
A refreshed interior packs a new multimedia system, measuring from five or eight inches depending on the boxes you tick. There’s also an electronic handbrake that frees up space in the centre console for storage and a wireless charging pad from the Ateca. Are you noticing a theme here?
We’re less enamoured by the new media screen though because it no longer comes with a selector knob. This means you have to zoom in and out of the sat nav and flick through menus by frustratingly thrusting a digit at the screen. Fine if you’re a dexterous youth with the hand-eye coordination of a professional Call of Duty player but not so much for the rest of us ham-fisted luddites.
Tech-wise there is a raft of new safety stuff that – once again – first appeared on the Ateca. Designed to attract family buyers, the upgrades include Traffic Jam Assist, Pedestrian Protection System, Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind Spot Detection, and parking assist.
I’m starting to lose interest a bit…
Ok the important stuff – two new engines. The 1.6-litre diesel has been given a 4bhp power hike (yikes!) and UK buyers now have access to the 1.0-litre petrol triple that has been on sale in Europe for some time.
It’s a fine unit that Octavia, Golf and A3 drivers will recognise; it produces 113bhp and 148ft lb thanks to a turbocharger. You need to get it into the mid-range to make the most of the power on offer, which is made trickier due to the six tall gears in the manual ’box – the aim of those being to keep revs down at speed, in an effort to deliver improved economy.
Wring the triple out mercilessly, though, and it’ll come back for more and more. There’s something deeply satisfying about making the most of every horsepower though and for that reason this Leon engine is the pick of the bunch.
You’ll notice this Leon’s lesser steering weight on turn in; it feels sharper and more agile than it does in heavier diesel form. This Leon is no different to the old one in terms of ride comfort – that is to say, very compliant and comfortable.
Without meaning to be a practicality bore, it’s also quite cheap to run – thanks to best-in-Leon CO2 emissions of 102g/km and impressive but bettered by the smallest diesel’s 64.2mpg. Those figures are identical in the DSG automatic version, as is the 0-62mph time – 9.6 seconds.
Sold – now give me one in that lairy FR trim!
Afraid not, as this engine is only available with Leons in SE Technology spec – which is essentially the base car plus 16-inch alloys, air-con, LED daytime running lights, the eight-inch media screen, a smattering of leather trim and cruise control.
This will be a popular choice among company car drivers and rental fleets, as well as being a sensible choice for private buyers who aren’t fussed by sporty looks or overly extensive kit lists.
Take it from us – if you’re after an affordable hatchback, this 1.0-litre Seat has considerable appeal.
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