This review should have been of the SEAT Alhambra, one of the experts favourite people carriers. I say should have because another muttering rotter pranged my review car in Paris during the motor show, which led to an apologetic phone call from the press office and the offer of a Leon Supercopa as an alternative.
I like the shape of the SEAT Leon (in fact, I have liked every SEAT that Carlton has reviewed), and think that it looks sporty, but still discreet. Im not a fan of cars that are too extrovert, but I do like fast ones, so the Leon suited me down to the ground.
The white paintwork worked better here than on some other cars weve had, and while I wouldnt necessarily choose it if I was buying one, it looked very fresh and modern and didnt show up the dirt as badly as I worried it might.
The hidden rear door handles look good but are a bit fiddly to use, and our younger son (aged 8) struggled a bit to open the door by himself. The lights glow with a lovely blue colour at night, which looks very modern and gives great illumination, which is helpful when you live in the middle of nowhere and there are no streetlights.
The interior is lovely, feeling solid and spacious. Its bigger than it looks and we fitted our family of four in with plenty of space to spare, along with a weeks-worth of shopping. The rear seats fold easily and make carrying big stuff a doddle; Im not sure Id ever need a big estate car if I had one of these!
The driving position is excellent and left me feeling fresh, even after two-and-a-half hours behind the wheel. The seat is supportive and firm, but very comfortable and leaves enough legroom in the back for an adult, even with a tall driver. Everything is easy to operate and use, and the Bluetooth synching for my iPhone meant that I could enjoy hands-free use of my phone and listen to my iPod too without trailing wires everywhere.
The quality of the interior was good too, and seemed to be every bit as good as a modern Volkswagen, for example.
The Leon felt very sporty, but the ride was still quite good, even if there was quite a lot of tyre roar. It steers beautifully and the brakes are nice and sharp, giving me lots of confidence to brake later than I might normally do but only when the kids werent in the car, of course! In fact, the whole thing was very confidence inspiring, letting me drive quickly but safely; it seemed to work with me, not against me, and flowed down the road well. It made me feel like a good driver, if that makes sense?
Its easy to park too and the visibility is great; in fact Im struggling to think of anything to say about it other than its rewarding and great fun; is that enough? I know that negative comments are interesting, but the Leon is simply brilliant to drive.
My own personal car is fitted with the 1.9-litre, 130bhp VW-group TDI engine, so I felt at home in the 2.0-litre TDI Leon, even though it boasts nearly 40bhp more. It sounds similar, which isnt necessarily a good thing as it can be quite intrusive, but it provides plenty of go and meant that I could overtake at will, always a bonus on the twisty roads where we live. It also has lots of torque, which meant that I didnt have to change down to a lower gear all the time. This made it relaxing to drive, even if I was in a hurry!
Fuel consumption was nearly 42mpg, which I thought was quite good as I did a lot of stop/start driving as well as a 250-mile drive along fast motorways, where I found that it cruises very well at, well, acceptable speeds…
Value for Money
Our test car cost 22,535 in basic form, which seems like very good value to me. The equivalent VW Golf
would be a couple of thousand pounds more and I honestly couldnt tell the difference in quality. As a long-time fan of Volkswagen Im not sure that Ill pay that sort of premium in the future. (Recent Skoda test cars have been very good in this respect too.)
The biggest compliment that I can pay the SEAT Leon Supercopa is to tell you that I would seriously consider buying one when we next change our car. We drive a different car each week and most of them leave me cold, or struggle to make an impression on me. Its also rare for Carlton and I to agree although we both love this one!
As a woman I liked its discreet looks, sporty performance, and ability to carry my family and a boot full of shopping and luggage in comfort. It was cheap to run, reasonably priced, and very well built; and in a family car, who could ask for more? If it was a bit quieter and had better rear door handles Id give it ten out of ten, but as it stands it still qualifies for a very impressive nine out of ten.
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