SEAT Leon FR TDI 2014 review

17 Jan, 2014 2:15pm Paul Bond

Fun and frugal SEAT Leon FR TDI diesel warm hatchback arrives in Britain


The SEAT Leon FR TDI might not be as exciting as the forthcoming Cupra, but it’s nearly as fast in the real world, looks good and is incredibly cheap to run. The sharp handling does not come at the expense of ride comfort, plus it’s great value, too. And with the full LED headlamps and touchscreen sat-nav both currently thrown in for free, it’s even more of a bargain.

Currently the 181bhp SEAT Leon FR TDI is the fastest SEAT in showrooms, at least until the hot Leon Cupra arrives in March.

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.

SEAT Leon review

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.

Full details on new SEAT Leon Cupra

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.

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very nice

The only time I may pick a diesel over petrol is if I was doing high motorway miles and yet this may be the best car in the Seat Leon range.
Unlike the unexciting and rather coarse 1.6L diesel unit, the 2L lump is torquey, powerful and quite flexible for a diesel and suits Leon.

Looks like it has an additional bodykit, including spoiler, skirts, and separate exhausts.

Will be lucky to achieve mid 40's mpg with a light right foot drove a golf TDI 2.0 2013 model(same hardware) with same engine woeful fuel consumption on test drive mixture of roads got 42mpg on trip -only good point on car cruising refinement! Way too expensive £26K w/o climate VW having a laugh! -Quality matched by many rivals- exterior panel fit bettered by focus-totally overrated cars and not that reliable to boot! bought by people who respectfully know little/nothing about cars!-Truth hurts!

Makes you wonder why you'd pay more for a Golf. Perhaps after years of neglect and leftovers, VW have decided to do something positive with Seat.

Don't quarrel with the description of the 1.6L diesel as "coarse" as it certainly can be (individual units also seem to vary to an unacceptable degree).Other makers do better.
However, having been caught up in the aftermath recently of a particularly nasty incident where a broken down car was rammed up the rear by a lorry and caught fire requiring the critically burned driver to be airlifted to hospital, reminded me of what nasty stuff petrol is.

Have one as a company car, Done 5000 miles so far and the car really is superb. Quick, handles well, and simple but effective interior controls for all the functions. Especially using the steering wheel/maxidot display

So you haven't driven one then

I have the same engine in my Leon SC FR 184 and I get around 55mpg realistic driving on a 10 mile run. it is possible to 60mpg plus if you drive like a complete saint. The engine is the smoothest I have owned. Revs quite happily too. must be one of the best small diesel engines available at this price.

Key specs

  • Price: £22,555
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 181bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 142mph
  • Economy/CO2: 67.3mpg/109g/km
  • Equipment: Heated leather seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, climate control, cruise control, touchscreen
  • On sale: Now