My daily commute to the office takes me from just off the M7 motorway at the Curragh to Grangecastle in Dublin 22, which takes approximately 45 minutes. With light traffic it’s a straightforward drive that usually has me listening to the radio and familiarising myself with my press cars gadgets and gizmos.
This week is slightly different with me in possession of the new Seat Leon FR. This 2.0 litre turbocharged 150hp hatchback has presented me with an alternative route to work, one that no longer involves motorways. Starting out at my house I take back roads that route me through Two Mile House, by Punchestown Racecourse and behind Johnstown, Kill and down into Rathcoole. It’s slightly less in distance but takes longer thanks to a series of sweeping bends, single lane roads mixed with severe hairpin turns. It acts as the perfect proving ground for the Leon FR and boy it doesn’t disappoint! Each and every morning I relished the opportunity to jump into the Leon and hit the go pedal.
VW’s parental influence has rubbed off even more on the new Leon and the well-appointed interior with figure-hugging sports seats make it a very nice place to be. Much improved on its predecessor might I add. Power delivery is effortless with the TDI lump delivering ample punch whilst still retaining phenomenal economy. Performance like this usually come at a cost, however if driven in a normal manner day to day the Leon FR will easily return up to 60mpg. Even driven in a spirited fashion you should still see 50mpg, which is very impressive!
The chassis feels taught through the bends with very little body-roll and grip levels are good from the 18-inch Continental-wrapped rims. Feeling is further enhanced thanks to the Sports mode setting I have selected from the Seat Drive Profile system. This enables you to pre-select entirely different vehicle characteristics at the push of a button, which include steering response, throttle response and ambient lighting. Other choices include Comfort, ECO and Individual mode, which you can personalise. After driving the Leon FR TDI for a week I can safely say it was one of my favourite cars this year.
The sharp aggressive styling is contemporary and further accentuated by the signature daytime running LED lights, which are standard on the FR. The good news is that unlike some other cars in this sector the Leon goes as well as it looks and feels purposeful. Seat are making ample progress in Ireland with sales growing 64 per cent compared to 2012 figures, seeing their market share increase from 1.5 per cent to 3.03 per cent this year. With a large range that includes the good-looking new Toledo, Ibiza, Altea, Mii and Alhambra there is plenty to consider when looking for a 132 plate.
For me, the Leon is the best car Seat offer right now but everyone has different needs. The FR in particular priced at €26,975 with road tax of just €190 thanks to just 106g/km of CO2 makes for the perfect every day commuter. It’s economical, good looking, well appointed and above all fun to drive! Leave the motorways to the dull cars!
[table “129” not found /]