Seat Leon FR TDI

Our Spanish star has been clocking up the miles recently - but has it proved the perfect long-distance companion?

There’s no better way to really get under the skin of a car than a road trip, so our SEAT Leon FR was my first choice for a recent jaunt that would take in destinations in England, Scotland and Wales.

First things first, though, because before that our bright orange hot hatch needed some new rubber - the front Pirellis were getting perilously close to their wear markers. Scouring the Internet for discounted prices proved disappointing, but I was pleased to find my local tyre outfit come up trumps.

Chiltern Tyres and Exhausts in Dunstable could fit a pair of Pirelli P Zero Rossos for £276 including valves, balancing and disposal of the worn out originals. Better still, they could squeeze the SEAT in the next day. Less than an hour after driving onto the ramps the new rubber had been fitted and the Leon’s grip levels were restored. It felt better than ever.

With a week off work in store, I had nine days to put some serious miles on the car, so I broke out my trusty map to plot my route . Prior commitments meant I’d be taking the FR to Scotland, Wales and even the odd airport, but there was plenty of flexibility in our itinerary.

First up was a weekend trip to Somerset, to see my girlfriend’s family and friends. Playing taxi over the course of the weekend meant we took in the sights of Glastonbury, the Clarks Village retail outlet and the smallest city in England – Wells. By the time we arrived back home we had added a healthy 372 miles to the odometer. Next up was the 84-mile return trip to London’s Heathrow Terminal 5, where the SEAT spent the night in the long-term car park as I travelled to watch an international rally in Scotland. Next it was time to head for Wales to check out some accommodation for a group holiday I was organising.

The Leon excelled itself on the Welsh back roads, thanks in nos small part to its traction and confidence inspiring handling. And the torquey 2.0-litre diesel engine provided a perfect mix of gutsy overtaking pace and wallet-soothing economy - overall the Spanish machine has returned a very respectable 39.8mpg.

Scoping out the local attractions added another 100 miles to the day-trip and by the time I pulled up on my drive another 507 miles had been accumulated. Last but not least was a trip to Scotland to see my family and friends – 419 miles away. And while the Leon proved its worth on the back roads of Wales, it’s also a great companion on the motorway as well. Comfortable seats, standard-fit cruise control, a tall sixth-gear and a brilliant audio system round off impressive long haul credentials. By the end of my week off I’d spent as much time behind the wheel as I would have done if I had been at work road testing. In total I had put another 1,820 miles on the clock. It’s often the case that spending so much time with a car only highlight irritating flaws and foibles. However,  the more I drive the SEAT the more I remember why I fell in love with it in the first place.

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