So there is an engine to suit everyone but there is something about the Volkswagen engines that manages to offer outstanding fuel economy and amazingly flexible, fun engines right across the range. Well, maybe the SEAT Leon Cupra is a little greedy and the petrol FR only a little better but the diesel FR is certainly the best of both worlds for driving enthusiasts with shallow pockets.
The 170PS is produced at 4,200rpm and there are 258Nm of torque on tap between 1,750- and 2,500rpm. It takes 8.2 seconds to complete the 0-62mph sprint, en route to a top speed of 133mph, where legal. However, I can't help thinking that it would be even quicker if first gear was just a little longer. That said, I have no real complaints, and the SEAT Leon FR is pleasingly quick off the mark.
But it is not just a matter of engine and transmission choices that make the SEAT Leon so popular. Clearly looks have something to do with it but a fancy new outfit will not compensate for bad dynamics, an uncomfortable ride or inefficient ergonomics.
There are plenty of cars with a fairly long wheelbase and a wide track. The Vauxhall Astra for instance, the Peugeot 308 or perhaps the Mazda3, all of which are main competitors to the SEAT Leon. But none of them can carry off the sporty stance in quite the same way as the SEAT Leon and particularly the FR and Cupra, both of which have exclusive front and rear bumpers, chrome-tipped exhausts; twin on the FR and a single large oval for the Cupra, together with sportier alloys.
The whole range benefits from the same serious underpinning that makes for a solid planted feeling when you're aspiring to be Yvan Muller, or even just going to the supermarket. The Agile Chassis concept remains, complete with roll bars front and rear, plus an independent, four-arm, multilink axle, which enables ride comfort to be kept separate from agility but operate at the same time. Add in the focused, electro-mechanical, variable power steering and you have the recipe for some very entertaining excursions.
But there is more. All of the new SEAT Leons come with something called XDS - an Electronic Differential Lock System, which is linked to the ESP. A standard limited slip diff' is designed to reduce the effect of understeer, which is sometimes caused when the outside wheels turn faster than the inner wheels, on a bend.
The XDS is an electronic version of the LSD and therefore much lighter. It works by gently braking the wheel that is losing traction and reducing the understeer and allows the wheels to rotate at different speeds, making the cornering altogether more stable. The XDS is making its first appearance in the new SEAT Leon but will be rolled out to other models as they are launched or refreshed.
This is a 11-year+ news article, from our SEAT archive, which dates back to the year 2000.
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