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Seat Leon 2.0 FR

Broadcast date : 30th July 2006

The Seat Leon is the hatchback version of this new brand, or new to South Africa in any event. Volkswagen-based Seats have been around for a few decades, and today this division of the VW Audi group is seen as a car for the individual, one who prizes style ahead of practicality.

We love the Mediterranean flair that the Seat embodies, the interplay of curves and knife-edges which can be compared to the more radical, but less successful efforts of BMW on its one-Series range.

Thereís a fine line between chic and kitsch, and in our minds the Seat Leon strikes that balance. Especially in regards to this top performance rendition of the Leon.

Those Da Silva touches are evident in the concealed handles for the rear doors, which first appeared on the Alfa 156.

The wipers are concealed by the windscreen pillars. As for the performance, it is razor-sharp.

If the looks blow you away, so too will the performance of the top-dog two-litre FR. Makes us realize how much we miss the Golf GTi.

On bumpy surfaces there is a slight price to be paid, as the Seat is less compromising in its ride. But if, like Hendrik, itís sharp turn-in and grip youíre after, this is the current champ of the VW Audi group.

The steering rack has been sharpened up, to go with the firmer spring and damper rates, and the Leon comes standard with eighteen-inch alloys and low profile tyres.

The chassis is just as solid as that on the Golf, which gave the Seat engineers the freedom to dial in suspension that provides good bite without too much bodyroll.

While output figures for the Seat Leon FR two-litre are identical to those quoted for the GTi, we wouldnít be surprised if Seat hasnít done some of its own re-mapping of the management system.

The crispness of the engine, both in torque and revability, seemed more marked than we remember on the excellent Golf GTi.

The engine features a turbocharger integrated with the exhaust manifold for packaging purposes, and the FSI designation refers to its direct fuel injection into the combustion chamber, a cause that VW-Audi has championed over the past few years.

Some elements of the interior were a bit too glitzy for our tastes, including the gear knob and the rather cheap-looking console paint finish. But equipment is extensive, including Bluetooth phone connection, and multi-function steering wheel controls. The seats are cloth, and not leather, however.

The design of the door panels, the dashboard and the sports seats fit perfectly with the Seat Leon FRís sporty image, although the sports seats do restrict entry and exit somewhat. Overall, Hendrik was blown away by the Leon.

Whether you opt for a Seat Leon instead of a Golf pretty much depends on your taste. The shape of the car was an instant winner, judging by passer-by reaction to it, and while you sacrifice practicality thanks to a narrow rear door opening, and more sloping roof-line, this is still one very useable pocket rocket. A big Hasta la Vista to this newcomer.

Seat Leon 2,0 FR
  • Engine: Four-cylinder turbocharged petrol, 1 985 cc
  • Power: 147 kW @ 5 100 rpm
  • Torque: 280 Nm @ 1 800 rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 7,2 seconds (claimed)
  • Top speed: 240 km/h (claimed)
  • Fuel consumption: 8,1 litres/100 km (estimated)
  • Price: R235 000
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