herald

Monday 11 December 2017

NEW SEAT LEON SCOOPs THREE MORE prestigious AWARDS after THUMBS-UP FROM HERALD

I hate to say it, but I told you so.

Yes, it seems our humble opinion matters - and in the highest echelons of the motoring world.

Just this week, the car Bible, aka Auto Express, bestowed not one but three awards on the all-new SEAT Leon.

The blisteringly-quick Cupra claimed the top slot in the hot hatch category, another for best compact family car and the super-stylish ST took best estate.

Now, I hate to rain on the big parade, but last October in this very column I declared the Leon Herald Car of the Year.

Just in case you missed it, I wrote: "So SEAT have finally achieved what they started out to do almost 25 years ago - produce a car with a fiery Spanish spirit coupled with German technology and build quality.

"With a starting price of €18,995 the Leon is coming in around €2,000 cheaper than the Golf or the Ford Focus. My contender for Herald Car of The Year."

Okay, before some super-sleuth tracks the piece down and micro-analyses it, I was actually talking about the mid-range FR model which comes with a whole array of bells and whistles. The generous amount of standard kit includes 17-inch alloys, climate control, fog lights with cornering, cruise control, rear parking sensors and media centre with 8-inch colour touchscreen controlling Bluetooth, music and USB.

But the piece de resistance for the FR has to be the Drive Profile - a choice of five settings including Sport which when pressed changes the interior lighting of the cabin to a wicked red.

The steering gets a little more taut and the suspension a tad stiffer as this 150bhp gets ready to party.

And party she can, with a 0-100kph in an impressive 8.6 seconds and a top end of 215.

Last week we were treated to the uber-efficient 1.6-litre diesel generating 105bhp and returning an astounding 74mpg (3.8litres/100km).

Gone are the array of F-16 fighter jet control buttons, but the excellent build quality remains, as does the simple dash layout.

Forget performance: the ST is all about practicality and room for the growing family.

Again it doesn't disappoint with a decent enough 587 litres of boot with a split-level floor for extra storage and enough room for that rarest of commodities, a spare wheel.

Fold-flat rear seats expand that sp ace to 1,470 litres, and if needed the front passenger pew folds for longer loads.

Best of all, though, is the look, with crisp crease lines running from top to toe giving the ST an upmarket Audi-ish look.

So, if you're in the market for a comfy, reliable family car, forget SUVs and take a punt on this. If you don't believe me, just ask Auto Express.

Prices start at €20,185.

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