It's time for a fresh start for our SEAT Leon after a series of unfortunate mishaps...
On the first day of our 12-month stint with the Leon FR, I cut a van driver up on the A41. I apologise now - it was late, someone had left the gas on, my dog ate my Highway Code etc, etc.
Either way, I'm sorry. Because ever since, our SEAT has been beset by bad luck. Maybe the van was driven by a voodoo witch doctor who was having a bad day, as KS56 VRE seems to be cursed.
Which is a shame, as it all started so well. After an alloy wheel was damaged by a pull-through carwash (which the firm thankfully replaced for free) in December, we were kindly offered a new paint treatment from a company called Permagard.
It involves plenty of technical and chemical jargon, but basically it's a special reactive polymer that seals the external finish of the car and protects it from the elements. But the best bit is you only need a sponge and water to clean it. No shampoo or polish. Just H20!
We visited the firm's London site, where the whole process took six hours - including paint, glass and even interior protection. This costs £272, but a mere £140 for the exterior treatment. The results were stunning. Not only does the treatment provide protection, but it gives a fantastic shine, and the Leon looked even better than the day it arrived.
For a few days the SEAT attracted more attention than usual, but from then on it was a downwards spiral. First it suffered a broken foglight surround, although we're not sure of the cause, and then a kerbed alloy (not the new one, thankfully). After that, a staffer didn't see a skip and the back of the Leon ended up with a large bruise on the tailgate. There's also been a broken parcel shelf -thanks to a clumsy photographer - and two new tyres due to punctures caused by nails (thanks to Kwik-Fit Mobile and Stamford Tyres and Exhausts: both were excellent).
Curses aside, the Leon is still a superb oil-burning hot hatch. The TDI engine is coarse, but its effortless performance makes it a great cruiser. Let's hope that the next six months are less eventful.