Propulsion choices for the Leon remain plentiful, drawing on the many options in the VW Group engine catalogue. The five petrol units available range from 1.0 to 1.8 litres and 115 to 180hp, while there are three diesels, a 1.6 with 115hp and a pair of 2-litre units with either 150 or 184 horses.
Of this eight just two are changed over the previous model. The 1.6 diesel has had its power increased by five horses to 115hp, while improving economy and emissions, while there is a completely new-to-the-UK unit in the form of a 1.0-litre three-cylinder TSI. This is an impressive little engine, its sub 10-second 62mph sprint feeling enthusiastic while the combined cycle fuel economy is comparable to the diesels and the emissions figure of 102g/km best in the range.
SEAT expects, however, that the 1.4 petrol, with its clever ability to shut down two cylinders when cruising to save fuel, will remain the most popular choice amongst retail buyers. Fleet drivers meanwhile will go for the smallest diesel.
Six speeds are general across the transmission range, whether in manual or in the DSG-auto gearbox, though the 1.6 TDI has a five-speed manual ‘box and there are seven with the 1.4 EcoTSI engine and the DSG-equipped 1.6 TDI.
On the road
Both of the most popular engines and the new 1.0-litre came under The Car Expert’s gaze during the launch event, and it is to little surprise that all behaved impeccably. They combine smooth, almost silent progress with eager pick up and smooth shifts whether through manual or DSG transmissions.
All testers of family hatches know that the Ford Focus offers the most effective chassis, but the Leon comes very close to bettering it, adding to the car’s generally sporty profile. A series of twisting bends is accomplished in fine style with precise turn-in and fine control though the apexes with plentiful grip. Equally, cruising at speed limits the Leon is assured, effectively smothering road surface imperfections.
Next page: Equipment, summary and specifications