I‘ve driven a lot of SEAT Leons over the years and I’ve run a couple as long-termers for this magazine, most notably a Leon ST SE 1.6 TDI in 2014, a car that took over from a Leon FR. I’ve never driven a Leon that I didn’t like, so when I was asked if I fancied a new one for six months, I didn’t have to think hard before answering ‘yes’.
So say hello to Leon, the striking blue SEAT that’s my responsibility until May. He’s an SE Dynamic 2.0 TDI, which is predicted to be the second most popular trim level for UK buyers; FR has always topped the list and SEAT doesn’t expect the fourth-generation model to be any different. Unusually for a press car, Leon is just one up from the entry-level SE version and above him are four more editions: FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux. That might sound like a recipe for impoverished motoring for half a year, but Leon is actually pretty well kitted out, as he comes with LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a DAB radio and 10-inch touchscreen, rear privacy glass, keyless entry and start, plus parking sensors front and rear.
Just 15 per cent of buyers are expected to choose a diesel engine, with 114bhp and 148bhp (coming later) options; ours is the former which is expected to take the lion’s share of sales. SEAT offers just two options for the Leon: a panoramic roof and a tow bar, neither of which are very popular, or feature on our test car. The idea is that if you want extra kit, you trade up to the next trim level, but even in relatively lowly SE Dynamic form, Leon isn’t lacking.
What I don’t have at my disposal is a heated front windscreen, which will hopefully one day be taken for granted, just as heated rear windows have been for decades. Just as Leon arrived, the temperatures plummeted and I had to buy lots of de-icer, unless I fancied waiting for 10 minutes for his engine to heat up as it ticks over on my driveway. Another thing that Leon doesn’t have is automatic wipers; they’re reserved for the FR and above. Finding a suitable setting means using the right variable intermittent option, by which point it’s usually stopped raining or gone the other way, so I just stick the wipers on full.
Missing from the kit list is heated seats, which doesn’t bother me, but my colleague Vicky uses them all-year round, if she can. So, with the mercury hovering close to zero for much of the time that Leon has been with us, Vicky is wishing he’d brought us a few more treats. First-world problems eh?
Something else that I’ve got used to is a rear parking camera, but instead there are sensors front and rear which are linked to the dashboard-mounted display. Leon also has Front Assist, which is SEAT’s term for Autonomous Emergency Braking. In the week between him arriving and me filing this report, the dashboard has flashed up once, and only very briefly, that Front Assist is not available, which is something that other Leon owners have mentioned, according to online forums. Thankfully, I don’t make a habit of driving into things ahead of me, so the chances of me being scuppered by this safety net being taken away shouldn’t be too great.
More annoying is the erratic Bluetooth connection, which connects for a few seconds, then disconnects (briefly) before then reconnecting once more – and so on until I give up and cancel the call. More on this in a future issue, but for now Leon and I are getting on just fine, as he’s very quiet and frugal, with just enough muscle to be entertaining. And on that note, I probably ought to sign off before any more references to a new man in my life sets tongues wagging.
Date arrived 17th November 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 60.1-64.2mpg
Economy (On test) 59.6mpg
A lot of gloveboxes nowadays are tiny, but the Leon’s has plenty of space for odds and ends.
The touch-sensitive volume and climate control buttons below the touch screen are fiddly to use.