Seat Leon FR 2.0 TDI
The Seat Leon FR 2.0 TDI is, on paper, the best premium German hatchback that money can buy. It offers Volkswagen Audi Group quality at prices well under of what the two main protagonists can muster, as well as a style distinct from the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3. But is it too good to be true?
Our pick of the FR range is the Hatchback 2.0 TDI CR 150 FR 5dr. This particular model rolls in at just £21,385, compared to the £23,675 asking price of the equivalent Volkswagen Golf. That's despite it sharing the same chassis, same engine and same quality. Granted, the Seat badge is not as desirable as the Volkswagen badge, but is VW so good that it can ask for more than £2k more?
In my opinion, it isn't, and I find it hard to believe that any sensible man or woman would opt for the Golf over the Leon when it is so blatantly obvious that VW is ripping customers off. How can I say that?
Because the new Seat Leon is just that good.
It all starts with the styling. The new Seat Leon is a far cry from the old version, and features piercing LED head lights, a low fat back bumper and aggressive body styling. The Golf, on the other hand, just looks like any other golf - high, boring and, if you squint your eyes, exactly the same as the old shape. The new Leon, Golf and A3 are all based on the same platform, yet they each offer a different look to the other. The Leon is clearly aimed at slightly younger drivers than the Golf, hence the FR (Formula Racing) badge on the front and rear of the car. The body kit is also more aggressive than either of those cars and you are certainly more likely to move out of the way of the Leon's piercing stare on the motorway than a Golf.
But does that styling advantage make the Leon a better car to drive than the Golf?
Well, they both share the exact same engine. It outputs 150 bhp and 236 lb /ft of torque which allows both cars to reach a top speed of 134 mph. In a straight line, both cars are level pegging, and the same holds true in-gear; the transmission is also the same on each car.
Inside, the Seat Leon FR is gorgeous. It's more sporty than the Golf and although it isn't quite at the same quality (there are more hard plastics in the Seat cabin than the VW), almost everything you'll touch is either wrapped in leather or soft touch rubber. The driver controls and media controls are just as good, with the centre console perfectly laid out for operation whilst on the move. The red stitched, flat-bottom leather steering wheel, gear gaiter and seats add to this sporty appeal further.
By contrast, the Golf is simply too laid back. It is a fine car to drive the Golf and it'll hold its value better than the Seat, but for the younger man, I say go for the FR. It just is that good.