Motoring review: Seat Leon SC - little 'emocion', but my wallet 'enjoyneered' it

 

Price: £16,635
Engine capacity: 1.2 litres
Power output (bhp @ rpm): 104 @ 4,500
Max torque (lb/ft @ rpm):
129 @ 1,400-4,000
Top speed (mph): 119
0-62 mph (seconds): 10.2
Fuel economy (mpg): 57.6
CO2 emissions (g/km): 114

"It's a Volkswagen underneath. My brother works for them. He says Seats are great." So spake the stranger in the VW Golf parked next to me in a traffic jam. Clearly an evangelist for the brand, and the first such I have encountered. I had taken our test car out, a new Seat Leon three-door (or "SC" in corporate designation, presumably for "sports coupé"), and been considering what I could usefully write about it. I thought I might start out by saying that "it's a Volkswagen underneath", but that, it seems, may not be as universally revelatory as I'd hoped.

Maybe it is common knowledge nowadays, leastways among those who care, that Skodas, Seats and Audis are all "Volkswagens underneath", since they benefit from the engineering resources of the VW Group as constituent brands. And that, therefore, you choose your VW variant on the basis of: value (Skoda); snob value (Audi); or "actually I don't care that much about cars so this is a safe default option" (VW). But what is the motivator in the case of the Spanish chapter of the Group, Seat? "Auto emocion" used to be the slogan; now it's "enjoyneering". The telly ads feature a dad and his kid bonding in a series of vignettes, but they leave one no closer to what "enjoyneering" might mean.

It is more adventurously styled than a VW, but that doesn't set the bar high. The previous generation of Leon had avant-garde lines, but this one is more restrained, the three-door particularly so. To be sure, it has fashionable touches, including a ridge over the rear lights, a sort of Neanderthal brow that seems to be the thing stylists do if they can't think of anything else for the back end of a car. But it is less dramatic than a Honda Civic.

The SC is like a lot of contemporary Vauxhalls and Kias: smart, but not so special. Indoors there is not a trace of Spanish "emocion". I mean, I am not so silly as to suppose that, say, the shape of a Seat's fag lighter could put one in mind of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Picasso's Guernica, or even the mounting tension of a border crossing into Gibraltar. Still, I'd expect a bit more "enjoyneering" in the cabin.

My test Leon had a cleverly engineered VW 1.2-litre engine that is turbocharged and supercharged, so it delivered decent fuel economy – 38mpg in mostly town driving on my run – with lively performance, of the kind you'd expect from, say, the 1.6-litre diesel, but you do have to rev it to "enjoyneer" yourself properly. The only real mechanical difference between a Golf and a Leon is in the rear suspension – thus, by the way, proving that not all Seats are, in fact, as thoroughly "VW underneath" as you (or your brother) might suppose.

The Leon has a system that is somewhat cheaper to make than the Golf, but which, at what motoring journalists like to call "the limit", may make for less accomplished handling. However, this makes no practical difference to anyone this side of Fernando Alonso. (And the sportier Leons do have that higher-spec suspension component to deliver their performance.) The benefit is that, partly as a result, this Leon is about £3,000 cheaper than its Golf equivalent. Hence, you get the enjoyment of saving all that cash for just a little less engineering. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my definition of "enjoyneering".

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

    £37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

    Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

    £25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

    £16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones