Let the pleasure begin: I step on the gas. The Leon FR is eager to move forward. Ahead of me, the first combination of curves I turn into. The Leon reacts directly and stably to the precise steering and unimpressedly follows the given course. While the Leon is in its element, the easy-grip sports steering wheel fits perfectly in the hand. Meanwhile, the sports seats provide the best support in sharp corners.
The front-axle transverse limited-slip differential XDS provides traction when poaching around bends. This is a functional extension of the electronic differential lock integrated in the electronic stabilization program ESP, which effectively eliminates any loss of traction by minimizing brake intervention. In this way, the XDS acts as a transverse locking differential to compensate for the understeer typical of front-wheel-drive vehicles when cornering at high speeds, while also ensuring a high limit range with good feedback.
The Seat Leon FR masters the curves almost calmly and safely with a cool handiness, to which also a four-link construction contributes, which processes the longitudinal and lateral forces from each other separately. The brakes have to prove themselves in the bends. The braking system is stable and can be precisely dosed, contributing to the driving pleasure with good directional stability.
Mini fuel consumption: Strong lion with little thirst
With the family on the road, it is advisable to shift down a gear before the woman in the front passenger seat gets sick or the children in the back are incessantly shaken by the constant curves, accelerating and braking. But it's good to know that the 184-hp Seat Leon FR 2.0 TDI feels at home in curvy terrain. In the back, the rear seats could be a bit more contoured to provide more support.
In the city and on the highway, the Seat Leon FR with the "Comfort" mode drives comfortably as well as confidently and now conveniently also offers smoother steering. On long, relaxed highway stretches, the "Eco" mode is a good way to save fuel. Ideally, according to the Spaniards, the 184-hp Seat Leon FR 2.0 TDI despite its power thanks to the start-stop system and recuperation with only 4.2 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (CO2 emissions 109 g/km), but this depends on the individual driving style.
Interior: Space and quality on a new level
Once seated in the comfortable sports seats, the tidy cockpit immediately catches the eye. The controls are located where the driver expects them and can be operated intuitively. Chrome and leather applications also set elegant accents. It's a bit of a shame that in addition to the numerous appealing soft-touch surfaces, there are also some parts with hard plastic, such as the lower part of the dashboard and areas of the door panels, although this doesn't detract from the overall positive impression due to the good workmanship. Bottom line: a big improvement over its predecessor.
The Seat Leon FR features, among other things, dark rear glazing, aluminum front door sill trims, a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel, sports seats including lumbar support, ambient lighting and automatic climate control with separate regulation for driver and front passenger. Red contrasting stitching on the steering wheel, seats, handbrake handle and gearshift lever successfully rounds off the measures.
The on-board computer display is located between the two analog round gauges directly in the driver's field of vision and provides information on average consumption, range and speed. Depending on the version, data from the navigation system, driver assistance systems or a cell phone connected via Bluetooth are also displayed.
Drivers over 1.80 meters long can enjoy the feeling of spaciousness, which even in the rear – not a matter of course in this class of vehicle – offers plenty of room for tall people. Isofix and Top Teather attachment points are standard for the smallest passengers' child seats.
No fewer than a dozen storage options and five enclosed storage compartments can be found in the doors, in the center console, and in front of and between the front seats to accommodate the little things of everyday life. There are also connections (aux-in, USB, SD and iPod cables) in the spacious front storage compartment of the center console, allowing multimedia devices to be connected to the on-board network.
The luggage compartment of the new Seat Leon has a volume of 380 liters, which is exactly 39 liters more than in the predecessor model and the same value as in the current VW Golf. With the rear seat back folded down, the load volume is 1.210 liters; in the case of the Golf, this is 1.270 liters. The trunk opening proves to be high and quite wide, but the high loading edge makes loading and unloading a bit difficult.