Just for a brief moment today I had the Hyundai i40 on the driveway at the same time as the SEAT Leon ST. The two cars cost about the money and have had equally upbeat reviews.
However, Car Couture thinks you should always choose a motor that is as visually appealing as it is sensible – which means there is only one option here.
Yes, the i40. It’s by far the more attractive car. It has stylist lines, proper curves and doesn’t blend in with the crowd when you park it at Waitrose.
I can’t say there is anything wrong with the SEAT, it reminds me of the latest VW Golf in many ways, confidently refined but not about to set the world on fire.
I imagine that might change when I drive it to London tomorrow to watch Manchester City beat Arsenal. 180bhp is a lot of power for a car this size – it’s going to be an interesting week…
I reckon the spacesaver spare wheel I bolted on the Leon this week is about as wide as the tyres on my very first car – a lime green Morris Minor.
It’s a weird sensation, knowing that one of your wheels is shod with the equivalent of an orthopaedic shoe. Max speed is 50mph but of course, the temptation is to go faster. Or simple forget…
Obviously, they don’t put that many spacesavers in a car but imagine what it would be like driving a hot hatchback – which is definitely how I would class the Leon SC – with FOUR spacesavers?
I’m surprised the ‘light entertainment’ programme that is Top Gear hasn’t pulled the stunt and trashed a perfectly good car in the process.
Modern cars have so much rubber on the road I think we forget how good tyres are these days. But four spacesavers on a SEAT Leon driven by Clarkson along a dangerous mountain pass – I think a lot of people would pay to see that on television…
Rain brings large puddles, which in turn bring potholes! And yesterday the Leon and I met one on the way down to London, with slightly disastrous results…
I thought we had got away with it but eventually, the tyre pressure light came on and I had to pull over. The result – a large nick in the side of the low profile tyre and a 50mph trip to Fulham on the spacesaver.
Not sure what the moral of this story is but the pothole wasn’t that big and I wasn’t driving that fast. At least the SEAT was equipped with easy to use tyre changing gear.
Apparently, most people call the AA or RAC when they have a flat these days. The art of changing a wheel yourself seems to have been left on the hard shoulder. However, the most common reason for calling a roadside recovery service? A flat battery….
The FR version of the Leon SC is all about driving but if you have to suffer passengers in the back, they aren’t going to find it easy to squeeze in. There’s plenty of room in the rear but a course in yoga will be required to negotiate past the front seats.
Despite a handle on the top, pulling the front seats forward is a bit of a chore. How a full-size adult is meant to gain access is beyond me. Don’t even think about using baby seats in the rear either because you will have a nightmare battling with them.
Yes, it’s a tad tight and your aged relatives are going to be fighting over the lone front passenger seat when you next turn up to collect them. Anyone over 15 stone might find the well bolstered sports seats a little cosy too.
At least the boot is a decent space – 380 litres of it. Excellent additional room if you fold the back seats down too. In fact, that might be an easier route to the back seat for passengers.
Somebody asked me what the Leon SC was like to drive… Well, if you are a gentleman of a certain age then you might just remember the Peugeot 205 GTI, circa 1985.
Yesterday I thrashed the SEAT back home across the Cotswolds in a state of some excitement. For me, a powerful car is nothing unless it is beautifully balanced and capable of making an average driver look and feel good.
The Porsche 911 does this beautifully. A Ferrari may be faster and an Aston Martin more brutish but the 911 doesn’t intimidate people when they slip down behind the steering wheel.
And so you can say the same about the Leon. OK, this is a performance diesel of limited grunt but it inspires you to push on through the gears by being uncomplicated and reassuringly easy to drive.
If you want a more meaningful reason to buy one, the SC is returning over 47mpg in all conditions, easily seats five adults and has VW group build quality as standard.
Personally, five miles across the Cotswolds on a clear road should be enough to swing it for you.
Volkswagen Golf fans should be kicking themselves. Why? Because the Leon is just as good a car and costs around £3,000 less when when you opt for the 2.0 TDI version.
We all know that VW, Audi, Skoda and SEAT share the same platform for many of their cars, yet we seem happy enough to pay a premium for the right badge on the boot. All very odd.
So, if you are about to pay £26,000 for a Golf TDI 2.0, I’d suggest you consider the Leon first. It’s true, the interior isn’t quite as well styled as the VW and the sharp edge of the designer’s pen on the bodywork might be an acquired taste.
But I’m clutching at straws here – this is basically the same car underneath. Which means it is a beautifully balanced drive, loves to be hurled around corners and in 184bhp guise, has incredible amounts of torque. It pulls from 65mph in sixth gear… and keeps on going.
The Leon SC doesn’t have the legendary status of a Golf but it rather deserves to…
I took the Leon to Bletchley Park yesterday. The home of the Government’s top secret Code and Cypher School near Milton Keynes is packed with British technology used to crack German coded transmissions during the Second World War.
Hitler’s Enigma and Lorenz code machines were tough to decipher but the men and women at Bletchley cracked it, using incredible devices like the Colossus, which look like something from a bad Dr Who set and fill an entire room.
Less complicated, thankfully, is SEAT’s infotainment system. I’m still gobsmacked that some manufacturers still manage to create complicated units which aren’t intuitive at all.
The Leon’s touchscreen system is foolproof. So simple you don’t need to be a codebreaker to get to grips with the navigation, Bluetooth or DAB radio. Simples indeed…
Everything on the farm is green – green grass, green wellies and green jackets. This column should be sponsored by Barbour. So, imagine how out of place a brilliant blue SEAT looks parked in the middle of it all.
Thankfully, blue is my second favourite colour, after green. And I also know from reading endless reviews of the new SC, that beauty is much more than skin deep with this car.
Autocar’s Car of the Year, the Leon offers owners the perfect mix of power and economy, with well balanced steering, annual road tax of only £20 a year and sharp if unspectacular looks.
So, what’s not to like? Well, nothing so far. Even the delivery driver was cooing and seemed reluctant to hand over the key. Let’s see if we feel the same after seven days….