A few weeks ago, on a very sodden and miserable day, two blokes met in the car park of a well-known budget hotel (conveniently located next to the M6) to make an exchange. I arrived in a maroon Nissan Qashqai, while Andy pulled up a few minutes later in his camouflaged Monsoon Grey SEAT Leon ST ñ almost completely hidden by the clouds, rain and puddles. I was delivering his new long-termer, while the Leon ST was deemed to be my ideal car for the next few months, with a nice low boot for all my photography kit. Two coffees later and weíd discussed both cars, their merits and pitfalls, surprises and annoyances and we departed fully recharged for the drive in our new cars.
I want to say the Leon had an easy time with Andy, but clocking up a little over 7,000 miles in just shy of six months, it had been driven more than the average British car. However, the keys are now with me, and in three and a bit weeks, the Leon has already sailed past the 10,000 mile mark; not bad considering one of those weeks was spent parked up whilst working away. The biggest standout so far has to be how little cash Iíve had prized from my bank account, considering all those miles. It costs around the £50 mark to fill up, which appears to give the car an average range of 480 miles, or to put it in the most obvious way, 47.1mpg. Those are welcome figures, making the Leon more economical than the Optima I ran before, and impressive considering how hard the Leon has been driven, with little thought given to improving fuel economy. So far, I wouldnít even contest the 67.3mpg average claimed by SEAT when driven with frugality in mind.
The novelty of driving a money-saving new car has been a little tarnished though ñ I had to call SEAT Assist on a Friday night while driving to Wales. Leaving Ikea in Birmingham after some essential shopping (a bag of Daim bar pieces and cooking utensils for my mum), I had half a tank of diesel, but 26 miles later, the digital fuel gauge dropped to a red blinking light. The only reason I could offer was a leak somewhere in the fuel system, but as I couldnít check, and for a change it was raining, I pulled into a car park. Just forty minutes later, a recovery man was underneath the car and bonnet looking for signs of a leakage, of which there were none. The AA man advised filling it up and seeing what was what ñ the Leon only required thirty litres (itís a 50-litre tank) to fill, which still didnít register on the gauge. With a faulty gauge or a glitch in the electronics the most likely culprit, it appears Iím about to spend some quality time at my local SEAT dealership, getting to know the service department.
Date arrived 10th May 2017
Fuel economy 67.3mpg (combined) 47.1mpg (on test)