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First Drive

First Drive Seat Leon 1.4 Eco TSI

The story:
Revised for 2017, the Seat Leon may look near identical to the pre-facelift model on the outside, but it’s on the inside and under the bonnet that the revisions are most significant.
Category:Small family
Key rival:Volkswagen Golf
Seat Leon FR Technology 1.4 EcoTSI manual 5dr
Price:£21,135
MPG:57.6mpg
Emissions:114g/km
On sale:Now

Inside, the Seat Leon now looks much more like the acclaimed Ateca SUV. This means the build quality and materials are good, with softer, classy plastics everywhere you’d touch. The layout is simple, if unimaginative, but that means everything is very easy to locate and use.

The one difference from the Ateca is the Seat Leon’s media screen, which has far fewer buttons. This is not great because it means more use of the erratically unresponsive touch-screen – particularly on ‘pinch-to-zoom’ when operating the satnav.

Seat Leon 2017 - Cabin

Interior space is unchanged, which means there’s still plenty of room in the rear seats for teenagers and fully grown adults to sit behind taller drivers.

Under the bonnet, the revisions mean the addition of the latest VW Group engines including the 150hp 1.4-litre petrol EcoTSI engine. This engine is fitted with cylinder deactivation which, ultimately, means it uses less fuel when the car is at a constant speed, yet has the power for acceleration and overtaking when needed.

The system works very well and the driver will never feel any difference from a regular engine when the cylinder deactivation cuts in or out. As well as offering good fuel economy, with an official figure of 57.6mpg, the technology also results in a lower CO2 figure of 114g/km, which puts the Seat Leon into the 21% benefit-in-kind tax band.

The new engine also suits the character of the Seat Leon and the Seat brand. While comfortable on longer hauls and easy to drive round town, the Leon is also a fun car for a more spirited drive on UK B-roads thanks to accurate steering and good body control, unlike some rivals.

The combination of the multiple small upgrades to the Seat Leon have resulted in an impressive and stylish car that’s also well equipped and competitively priced. With Seat fleet sales ramping up since the introduction of the Ateca SUV, the new Leon deserves a more prominent position in the company car market.

 

Tristan Young

The verdict

There is nothing here to prevent recommending the revised Seat Leon. The hatch was a great company car before it was facelifted, and now it's even better.