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SEAT Leon Ecomotive SE 1.6 TDI CR road test report

Ecomotive SE 1.6 TDI CR

With the new Leon Ecomotive, SEAT extends its extra green model line and adopts Stop/Start and Brake Energy Recovery technologies for the first time. Helped by other consumption and emission cutting measures, this Spanish five-seater now dips below the crucial 100g/km CO2 figure, but it costs a little more to buy…

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

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Performance Performance - 3 stars

The Leon Ecomotive is powered by a conventional 1.6-litre TDI which, despite this model’s green credentials, produces the same 105PS and 250Nm (184lb/ft) as the non-Ecomotive 1.6 TDI, and indeed the same power as the older but still current 1.9 TDI version. As is often the case with modern diesels, this Leon’s performance figures – 0-62 in 11.5secs, 118mph max – don’t properly reflect the car’s low- and mid-range punch. It may be green but it can still be first away from the lights, and extra aerodynamic refinements and low rolling resistance tyres further contribute toward relaxed cruising at motorway speeds.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

SEAT is still busy forging itself a sporty reputation while selling cars to a younger buyers than any other brand in Europe, and the ride characteristics of some of the sportier Leon variants is indeed pretty youthful, or in other words, firm. This is not the case with the Ecomotive model which offers a well-controlled and compliant ride but without being wallowy or under-damped. The energy-efficient, speed-sensitive, electro-mechanical power steering is well-weighted and responsive, while the brakes (which harness braking energy and send it to the alternator thus reducing engine load) are powerful with good feel.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 3 stars

I’m not particularly taken with some of the many and varied carbon and aluminium lookalike plastic trims inside this Leon, but everything seemed well put-together and robust. The Leon, along with almost all other SEATs, is manufactured in the company’s ultra modern factory near Barcelona where the latest production techniques are employed, but of the 27 manufacturers in the 2010 JD Power Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study, SEAT scored the same 781 points as last year. This places the brand slightly below this year’s industry average, rather than just above, where it was last year, but a 3yr/60,000m mechanical warranty with a two-year Europe-wide rescue service should bring peace of mind.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

The Leon has a 4-star (occupant and child) Euro NCAP score and standard equipment includes front, side and head airbags (six in total), ESP Electronic Stability Programme, EBA Emergency Brake Assistance and ABS braking with TCS traction control. In addition there’s tyre pressure monitoring, five 3-point seatbelts; ISOFIX child seat anchoring points, remote central locking with deadlocks, a volumetric alarm with back up horn and an electronic rolling code immobiliser. Optional safety equipment fitted to my test car included rain-sensing wipers, bi-xenon headlamps and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

Despite it’s sporty coupé appearance the 5-door Leon offers much the same accommodation as other similarly-sized hatchbacks such as the A3 or Golf, with which the Leon shares a very similar chassis and underpinnings. There’s ample space and comfort for the two front seat occupants, and I had no trouble fitting my largish 6ft frame into the rear, although three adults of my dimensions would find it a squeeze; at least one of the three rear bench-seat passengers needs to be child-sized. The 341-litre boot is usefully sized while loadspace increases courtesy of the 60/40 split/fold rear seats.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

In addition to the standard dual-zone climate control, trip computer and MP3-compatible CD player with auxiliary inputs, my test Leon boasted £1,600’s worth of options including a media system with Bluetooth comms, satnav and parking sensors. Fuel consumption is a very impressive 74.3mpg combined, coincidentally the same as the new Auris Hybrid’s combined figure, but expect mid 50s in the real world. With just 99g/km of CO2 (VED Band A) there’s no annual road tax, but the SE model I drove costs £18,045 otr, or £430 more than the similar Band B, non Ecomotive Leon. At this level that’s currently the equivalent of over 20 years of Band B Vehicle Excise Duty, so the decision to chose an Ecomotive may be based as much on ecological principals as on purely economic considerations.

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