A LEON YOU'D LIKE (some text hidden)
BY JONATHAN CROUCH
Introductionword count: 68
The third generation SEAT Leon family hatchback proved to be a very complete package. Better looking than its predecessor, it proved to be sporty to drive, classy inside and out and was fitted with super-efficient engines and plenty of hi-tech equipment. It was exactly the car the Spanish brand needed to resurrect its fortunes in the Focus-class sector. Does it make a good used buy? Let's find out.
Modelsword count: 20
5dr hatch / 3dr 'SC' Coupe / 5dr 'ST' Estate (1.2 TSI, 1.4TSI, 1.8TSI, 2.0TSI / 1.6 TDI, 2.0 TDI)
Historyword count: 257
Like its predecessors, SEAT's third generation Leon model took most of the ingredients you'd pay thousands more for in a Volkswagen Golf or an Audi A3 and re-packaged them into a sportier-looking design costing thousands less. Such has always been the selling point of this car - at least amongst buyers prepared to overlook the gap in perceived quality to Audi and Volkswagen - and the fact that the same selling proposition has always also applied to Skoda's even cheaper Octavia. By 2012 and the launch of the third generation SEAT Leon model we look at here, things were changing a little. The Spanish brand aimed to give this MK3 version a classier feel in its own right. Yet the company continued to sell this family hatch with a price tag low enough to undercut an Octavia and make this the least expensive route into the Volkswagen Group's most sophisticated family hatchback technology. For many UK buyers, the Leon has always epitomised what SEAT stands for but some of these people had to adjust their thinking a little with this third generation design. For one thing, this MK3 model was offered not only as a five-door hatch but also as a three-door 'SC' coupe and as an 'ST' estate. For another, equipment was fitted in this car that previously, buyers simply wouldn't have associated with a 'value' brand like SEAT. A 'democratisation' of luxury that the company hoped would change people's whole perception of what a Focus-sized family hatchback could actually be. It was a promising package.
What You Getword count: 556
SEAT stylists say that they used a special tool to design this car: light. Every day, the prototype was wheeled outside so the team could see how the reflections and highlights looked under the clear Spanish sun. The end result, the purest interpretation yet of the company's 'arrow head' design philosophy, is a reward for such attention to detail, a decisive, sharply drawn shape with a clean, crisp, racy look that's especially eye-catching when dressed to kill. Here, we're focusing on the five-door hatch which, unlike the MK2 model, no longer had to try and look like a sporty 3-door coupe by building in its rear door handles into the rear windows. That's because the third generation Leon range offered an SC Coupe bodystyle, as well as a capacious ST estate. All get the same beady-eyed front end with a set of angular Audi-style headlamps either side of the usual trapezoidal SEAT grille, lights that could for the first time in this segment be specified in full LED form. Moving around the car, you notice the self-confident wheel-at-each-corner stance with its slight shift of visual weight over the back wheels where the characteristic SEAT 'Linea Dinamica' runs rearwards over the arches. And it's also a clever piece of design as well as a good looking one, the angular panelwork draped over SEAT's version of the Volkswagen Group's MQB modular transverse platform, stiffer, tougher, lighter and more hi-tech. Underpinning a shape that somehow manages to be smaller, yet bigger: we'd better explain. A slightly longer wheelbase means that there's more interior room than there was in the second generation Leon, despite the fact that this version is 52mm shorter; that means 14mm more headroom and 14mm more legroom - enough to make a difference even if it's not enough to make three adults especially comfortable on a longer trip. But then no Focus-class family hatch really manages that. Out back, there's a decently sized 380-litre boot 39-litres bigger than the previous model could offer and 64-litres larger than that of a rival Ford Focus. Push forward the 60/40 split-folding rear bench and you can extend that to 1,210-litres. And up front? Well the driving position's excellent but what those familiar with previous generation versions of this car will most notice is the massively improved cabin quality. The best that the Volkswagen Group can do is naturally reserved for VW's Golf and the upwardly mobile Audi A3 but this was certainly a giant leap forward for SEAT. It may lose out a little in terms of chromed highlights and soft-touch plastic but by the same token, it is in many respects a more interesting place to be with unusual trapezoidal shapes for things like the door handles and the airvents. And you don't have to put up with arguably pointless touches like push button starters and electronic handbrakes. Dominating the centre part of the dashboard and higher set than before is the infotainment touchscreen, or, as SEAT likes to call it, the EASYCONNECT operating system, with carousel-style graphics also replicated on the additional screen you'll find in the centre of the instrument cluster. Via the main EASY CONNECT touchscreen, offered in two sizes, you can access the stereo, the onboard computer or the Bluetooth 'phone function or, if specified, the optional Navigation, Drive Profile or Parking Sensor functions.
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Category: Compact Family Cars
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