Long term test report: SEAT Leon FR 2.0 TDI CR DSG
It’s a case of ‘Getting to know you’ as Adam Sloman puts in some serious time racking up a fair few miles with his brand new SEAT Leon FR
The SEAT Leon FR has always had a reputation as a genuine alternative to its long running brother, the Golf GTI. In my opinion, the Golf has become staid and somewhat stale, while the Leon has gone from strength to strength during this current generation. The revisions made to the Leon line-up last year means that the 168bhp version of the 2.0-litre TDI engine powers the FR+, and the less powerful 138bhp unit is found under the snout of our FR. The revised car has lots of smart little styling details on it, my favourite of which are the LED tail lamps, which look like furrowed eyebrows. But for our long-term test, we went down an unusual route, we chose to pair the engine with the six-speed, twin-clutch DSG automatic gearbox. I was naturally looking forward to taking delivery of the Leon, but somewhat hesitant about running an automatic on a long-term basis – something I’d not done previously.
Still, there’s no better test of a car than putting some serious miles on the clock and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing, notching up almost 2,500 miles this month. It’s been interesting since this is the first automatic I’ve had long-term use of, bar a dodgy automatic Mini Clubman Estate a few years ago. Obviously it’s considerably more advanced than the old British Leyland auto ‘box, and so far I’ve not had too much use from the paddle shift, preferring to let the car do the work, however when I have opted to utilise them, I’ve found it to be quite good fun, letting me really get the most from the 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI unit. With the gearshift selector planted in ‘D’, the changes up and down the ‘box are smooth and almost seamless, though occasionally it is a little too eager to kick down on downhill sections. My wife Sarah has also found her feet with the DSG, too. Until the car’s arrival she’d never driven an automatic and initially the idea of a redundant left leg was a tough one to deal with but now, (annoyingly for me) she’s as happy to take the Leon as she is her own Citroën C3 Picasso.
The Leon is a neat handler too, making it a great companion on my current regular commute from Honiton to Bath.”
The Leon is a neat handler too, making it a great companion on my current regular commute from Honiton to Bath, adding some much needed entertainment to the otherwise tedious trek from the depths of Devon. As much fun as it is, at times the ride can jar, with the firm suspension making itself known right from the off, with the bumps and ruts from broken tarmac being all too obvious in the cabin. That’s the downside to sports suspension, and I had my eyes firmly open when I went down this route, so knew what to expect.
The majority of my driving has been done under the cover of darkness, leaving early and coming home late, so the automatic bi-xenon headlights have already proven their worth, brilliantly lighting the way ahead for me, especially on the unlit lanes that lead me home – even more so with foxes, badgers and deer all jostling for position en route!
There’s so much to like about the Leon, it’s made a very positive first impression. It seems to have a spirit and character lacking in the equivalent VW Golf or Audi A3, and has that little bit more flair to it. The Emocion red paint seems to turn plenty of heads and both friends and family have been quick to comment just how smart the car looks. One of my favourite features at the moment though has to be the heated seats. After some very cold days in my workshop working on older cars, to be able to get in the SEAT and be toasty warm in just a few minutes has proven to be a real boon and with their red alcantara covering, they look ace too. On a more practical note the boot has impressed too, it’s quite a bit deeper than the Leon’s curvy body may suggest and it happily swallowed our Maclaren pushchair and the weekly shop. After a relatively short time with me the Leon is proving itself a very capable all-rounder and a good family ferry.
Date arrived: 9th November 2011
Mileage to date: 2,602miles
Costs to date: None
Faults to date: None
Fuel consumption: 53.3mpg (official combined) / 41.9mpg (on test)