In every family, individuals frequently try to stand out from their kith and kin, just like the Seat Leon FR.
As part of an enormous range within its own brand, it also belongs to part of the Volkswagen Group which includes the Golf and Audi A3, the closest rivals to the Leon.
The Leon takes on its relatives with a staggering range to suit mostly young tastes, offering three and five door hatchback bodystyles as well as a sports tourer estate.
They come with a choice of five petrol engines from 110 to 290PS and three diesels 110 to 184PS and the four basic trim levels can be enhanced with special packs of goodies to suit particular tastes. It is a formidable line-up. And so is the Leon FR with the Tech pack as we tested, although the equipment featured added about £2,735 to the standard price of £24,430.
The gutsy 184PS 2.0 diesel displayed momentary hesitation from rest but very quickly got going to deliver strong acceleration and thanks to well chosen gear ratios it swept past the familiar 62mph mark in under 8 seconds.
The powertrain’s flexibility meant we averaged just under 50mpg over mixed roads but that’s a long way from the claimed lab-tested 62mpg although its still a good average.
With a responsive engine, good slick gearchange, easy tight turning circle and strong brakes underfoot, the Leon FR was as agreeable in town as it was exciting on more open roads with sweeping bends.
The steering column had a modest range of adjustment and travel on the front seats was adequate for most to find a comfortable position behind the wheel. The alcantara covered FR sports seats were very deeply shaped to locate and support occupants although they were much flatter in the back three positions.
Access was really very wide and easy, the fifth door opened high and there was a deep sill over which to lift items with a boot ranging from 380 to about 1200 litres capacity depending on how you used rear seats. Teenagers or adults could comfortably sit in the back with a lot of headroom and good legroom.
Driver and passenger comfort was good with all controls close to hand, air conditioning was very effective, oddments room good for a family car and the secondary controls and displays were large and clear including the 7-inch mulit-function touchscreen incorporating Mirror link, Apple CarPlay and Android auto for extra.
Visibility was good to front and sides, more restricted to the back by the small rear window and wide C-pillars, but lights and wipers did a very good job. Our test car had the £515 front radar and braking system.
Road bump thump and suspension noises were slightly intrusive but the powertrain was generally muted unless you really pushed on through the lower gears.
Ride quality was very good for a car with sporting potential. It was very slightly on the firm side, but not at all hard or uncomfortable and it had little roll or pitching to upset driver or passengers, and the handling was sharp and safe as well as surefooted.
For a family car the Seat Leon FR with distinctive bumpers and headlights as well as privacy glass turned heads and prompted remarks far more than we expected and we were able to tell those who commented this is one sibling which does stand out from the rest.
|SEAT Leon FR Tech 184 2.0 d||Price: £27,165 as tested with options|
|Insurance group: 26E||Mechanical: 184PS 4cyl 1968cc turbo-diesel, 6sp manual|
|Max: 142mph||0-62 mph: 7.5 secs|
|Fuel consumption: 48mpg||Emissions CO2: 118gkm|
|BIK: 20%||Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles|
|For: Looks, room, powertrain, economy, comfort||Against: Some noises, rear visibility.|
|© Images Beth Keenan|