SEAT Leon SC 2.0 TDI FR – First Drive Review

SEAT’s slogan ‘Enjoyneering’ might show the same wanton disregard for the English language as celebrity portmanteaus like Brangelina and TomKat (if you’re now going “huh?”, we salute you), but it isn’t without merit.

The brand still has a more youthful image than other Volkswagen Group offerings, but retains the depth of engineering you’d expect from a group that trades on making the most from the same platforms and components.

If you didn’t already know, the platform underneath SEAT’s latest entry, the three-door Leon SC, is the same ‘MQB’ arrangement you’ll find under the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf, the new Skoda Octavia, and the Audi A3. With plenty of changes, naturally – and those changes make the Leon SC, to our eyes at least, comfortably the prettiest of the MQB-based cars so far.

SEAT Leon SC FR rear

From some angles, it reminds us very much of the old Alfa Romeo Brera coupe. Up to the A-pillars, it’s the same as any Leon, but past that every panel is new.

SEAT is most proud of the rear quarter panels, which feature one of the sharpest creases you’ll find on a production car and are apparently a bit of a steel presser’s nightmare. Other interesting touches include the front all-LED headlights (a first as standard equipment – for a limited time – in the class) and the narrow LED strips found in both the front and rear light units.

Inside it’s largely standard Leon, but FR models like our test car have the option of sporty leather and Alcantara chairs and plenty of red stitching on every leather surface. As with virtually anything under the Volkswagen banner these days, it’s pretty much spot-on as far as ergonomics are concerned, with various directions of adjustment to both seats and wheel and clear instruments.

SEAT Leon SC FR interior

Interior and boot space are also good, if not quite on par with the less attractive five-door. Our only slight concern is build quality. Our car displayed a few squeaks not associated with the water bottles and sweets SEAT had kindly left in the car. In fairness, these were only noticeable as the car’s rolling refinement is so good – the lack of wind, tyre and engine noise at higher speeds is genuinely on par with cars from a class or two above.

Out on the road it’s an easy car to get used to, particularly with this car’s dual-clutch DSG transmission. The 150 PS 2.0 TDI diesel engine pulls hard, the DSG shifts quickly and smoothly whether pottering or passing and there’s less diesel grumble than from previous iterations of the engine.

SEAT Leon SC FR headlight

Handles well too – perhaps not the last word in steering feel, but there’s more life than you’ll find in the A3 or Octavia, plenty of grip, and nothing to make you question SEAT’s sporty brand ethos.

The ride quality is also good, if rightly firmer in FR trim than in less performance-orientated trim levels.

By the end of our test, the car had returned an indicated 50 mpg or so. It’s not a spectacular figure, but for a two-litre diesel it’s pretty much par for the course, and will be enough for most customers to justify the extra performance of the engine.

Price as tested: 24,400

Combined MPG: 64.2

CO2: 117 g/km

SEAT Leon SC FR badge

Verdict

There is a ready market for the new Leon SC, both for new customers seeking a stylish, punchy coupe and existing Leon owners who’d always have gone for the three-door model had one been available until now. That you save a few hundred quid over the five door – for slightly higher levels of equipment and a more attractive profile – makes it a tempting proposition.

For us though, the best Leon SCs are a little further down the range – some of the petrol units now get pretty close to the diesel’s economy for less cash, with a smoothness the TDI just can’t match.


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