But does that make it the most fun to drive? We got behind the wheel of this right-hand-drive model to see if it’s as good as the Spanish car we previously drove.
The striking Alor Blue paint of this five-door model definitely gives the Leon more visual clout than its conservative Volkswagen Golf GTD sister car, although for us the exterior of the flagship FR is too similar to less potent Leons.
The car we drove came with the £700 optional ‘Titanium Pack’, which includes racier two- tone alloys and grey mirror caps, but the overall effect is subtle.
Still, with that power figure and a 142mph top speed, the Leon could surprise a few people. The 2.0-litre TDI is a superb engine, with a fistful of mid-range torque that pushes you rapidly forward through third and fourth gears. Yet because the engine is so refined, and the ride is so nicely judged, it’s easy to reach high speeds with little effort.
The FR sits on 15mm lowered sports suspension, but it still does a great job of absorbing any crests or bumps in the road. Throw the Leon into a tight corner and the front tyres respond at once, with loads of grip and no body roll to speak of. And the steering is accurate enough to give you the confidence to place the car exactly where you want.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect is that the Leon TDI combines these dynamic talents with such low running costs – a CO2 figure of just 109g/km and economy of nearly 70mpg are stunning in a car this fast. And with a price of £22,555, the Leon costs less than any of its diesel hot hatch rivals.