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SEAT Leon 1.9 TDi Ecomotive road test report

1.9 TDi Ecomotive

It has been the widely held view in recent years that most marriages come to a messy and expensive end where nobody really benefits. This marriage is different however, it is a marriage between economy and performance...

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the SEAT Leon

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Performance Performance - 4 stars

It has been the widely held view in recent years that most marriages come to a messy and expensive end where nobody really benefits. This marriage is different however, it is a marriage between economy and performance and it is one which works! The Ecomotive is actually an eager performer which likes to be driven hard just as much as it likes to be driven with MPG in mind. As part of the ‘Ecomotive’ revision of the vehicle the gearing is longer and as a result when you are in traffic you can still use relatively high gears to cruise along and when traffic reduces you can remain in the same gear to pull away with no small amount of acceleration.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

It is widely known that Seat is owned by Volkswagen and that those two plus Audi share some parts and platforms etc. The similarities between the Leon and A3 are plentiful when it comes to the handling and ride. Both vehicles feel direct in their handling, with a feeling that you can just ‘point and go’. The ride is firm and somehow even in a reasonably sized vehicle you can get a go-kart like feeling at the wheel.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 3 stars

This is really the only section where the disparity between the Leon and its stablemates the Golf and A3 is evident. This does not mean that the build quality is bad , it isn’t at all , just not up to the standard of other more prestigious marques, and then again it is not priced to compete for the same customer either. Although there are plenty of soft touch materials on the interior of the car, it did feel a little drab and uninspiring .The Ecomotive it must be remembered is kitted out with a very basic level of spec, equivalent to the most basic affordable model.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

The Leon has a four star (occupant and child) Euro NCAP score owing to features such as the electronic stability programme and the Emergency brake assist. It also has side airbags in the rear of the car. Remote central locking is standard and a handy auto lock facility means that doors are automatically locked when the vehicles reaches speeds of over 6Mph. You might want to turn this feature off if you are picking up a girl on a first date!

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 3 stars

It is hard to bracket the Leon with cars such as the Ford Focus as it seems to compete less for the family market and more for the young couple or young and single market. The car does feel smaller on the inside than some of its rivals , it is a true hatchback though and practical enough if you have small children and some shopping to take home.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

This is the Leon’s big selling point. It is made in the same stable as the Golf and Audi A3 but there is a very good chance that you could get the same engine and spec level in all three vehicles and come out of it with more change in your pocket if you choose the Leon. Residuals are actually quite strong too, especially in the diesel derivative and this can make for strong Contract Hire and Leasing rates. If I were to look at buying a vehicle of this ilk I would definitely wait until I had tried the Leon before I made my decision.

Performance Performance - 5 stars

Perhaps the most surprising aspect with the Leon is its performance; you don’t feel like you have made a compromise over power and acceleration with your choice of car. Under the bonnet is an excellent 105 PS 1.9 TDI DPF which features an electronic engine management system to maximise fuel efficiency and minimise CO2 emissions. Acceleration is crisp through the gears and the car rarely breaks 2500 revs as you get up to cruising speed. Heavily tweaked for maximum efficiency the ratios between gears can take some getting used to especially between third and fourth, your brain is telling you one thing while the car is telling you different! You soon get to grips with this though and it doesn’t interfere with your driving enjoyment.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

The handling is crisp and exciting, obviously SEAT want to maintain their reputation as providing drivers with a fun and thrilling drive; in no way has SEAT compromised in delivering a green car so-closely related to its Cupra sibling. The car has been fitted with low roll resistance tyres to aid economy yet cornering in rain doesn’t feel like you’re taking your life in your own hands. In keeping with its sporty styling the ride is pretty firm although forgiving when taking on the winding and sometime bumpy roads that the Lake District can throw at you.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

It’s no secret that build quality and reliability at SEAT has improved immensely since being run by Volkswagen; and the Leon Ecomotive feels built to last – this is embodied by the 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Inside the dashboard is clean, clear and intuitive however it is far from being opulent, but works well in the car. You can expect the usual refinements that you would find in any small family sized car. The car also features the vertical park wiper system, which would appear to be a slightly pointless innovation as it does the same job as standard windscreen wipers!

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

The Leon scores a very good four star for occupant and child safety in the Euro NCAP tests, partly down to coming with six airbags as standard, two front, two front side, and two curtain bags. Furthermore unseen systems have been developed such as Emergency Brake Assistance Electronic Differential Lock which ensures maximum braking capability should the need arise. Remote central locking as standard, child locks and deadlocks on all doors and rear hatch ensure that the car remains secure.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

The Leon Ecomotive is a five door car and can comfortably fit four good sized adults for long trips without discomfort, while the boot provides a decent amount of space (at 341 litres) while the rear seats can be completely folded down to provide a large storage area should the need arise. The car’s size and fuel economy ensure that it works well in urban areas or when travelling long distances on motorways.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 5 stars

With CO2 emissions at a paltry 119g/km the car sits comfortably in the B grade for VED, so along side luminaries such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid; and that is the real brilliance of the car, it shows that a relatively simple diesel can rub shoulders with lauded eco-friendly hybrid cars. Fuel economy is also outstanding and on long motorway journeys the car just eats up the miles without the fuel gauge seemingly moving downwards. Insurance-wise the Ecomotive is group 6, out of the other Leon variants available only the 1.6 Reference is in a lower group (five). On the road at around the £14,000 mark; so substantially cheaper than the current hybrid offerings out there.

Performance Performance - 5 stars

If you are looking for a hot hatch that can take you far for less, then the SEAT Leon Ecomotive will certainly impress. With the engine tweaked for the economy, this car can take you from London to Barcelona on a single fill which is more than 900 miles making this car a super performer in the green car market today. The impressive Ecomotive is simply an evolution of an existing 1.9 TDi engine, with the driving experience unchanged. The vehicles weight reduction shaves 0.4 seconds off the 0-62mph time which is now 10.9 seconds. That’s still quite impressive considering.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 5 stars

At first the Leon Ecomotive takes some getting used to with the extra long gear ratios, which I think is a reasonable compromise for the performance of this vehicle. Although this car has low-resistance tyres and smaller wheels the Ecomotive certainly retains the sporty character we expect from the Leon range. Overall this car is a good firm drive.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 4 stars

The Leon lends the same build quality with bits and bobs from the VW Golf giving this car a good solid and robust feel. Although this feature is nothing to get too excited about, the water jets are really powerful and with the vertical wiper system this gives you a perfectly clear screen, however the windscreen wiper action does decrease visibility slightly. The rear view mirror seems larger than standard which did create a small blind spot but the supportive sports seats give a comfortable driving position which is more important.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

The Leon car has achieved an impressive four star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests. All models are fitted with front, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, plus stability control and all the measures you would expect to safeguard the vehicle from thieves.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

The Leon offers plenty of space to fit 4 Adults and 5 at a push if needed. Boot space isn’t shy either although the shape of the lip can make it awkward for large objects to be placed inside. Overall the car offers comfort with plenty of head and leg room.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 5 stars

The residual value of the Leon is fair compared to most rivals. With the Ecomotive’s MPG averaging at 62.8mpg (with a best 76.3mpg driven at optimum speeds) and reduced CO2 emissions from 135g/km to 119g/km the car sits firmly in the B grade for VED. If you have an eye on the environment and your wallet, the Leon Ecomotive is a must buy.

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