Car trim reviews

SEAT Leon FR

The SEAT Leon is the Spanish carmaker's rival to the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. It's also Carbuyer's Best Family Car for 2014 because we think it's a great all-rounder and offers excellent value.

In the Leon range there's four trims, S, SE, FR and the sporty SEAT Leon Cupra that's available with 261bhp or 276bhp. The lesser SEAT Leon FR draws influence from the Cupra and is unashamedly sporty with its 17-inch alloy wheels, lowered sports suspension and styling kits that include redesigned front and rear bumpers.

Under the bonnet there are two petrol engines and two diesels. The entry-level engine is the 138bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol, but if you want more power there's also the choice of a 178bhp 1.8-litre turbo that comes with the option of SEAT's dual clutch DSG automatic gearbox that offers quicker more efficient shifts than a conventional auto.

On the diesel front there's a 2.0-litre with either 148bhp or 182bhp. For those who do above average miles the diesels are the obvious choice, with the lower-powered 148bhp averaging a very respectable 68.9mpg while the more powerful 182bhp barely penalises you at all for its extra power – returning 67.3mpg.

Both petrols are efficient too. The 1.4-litre averages 54.3mpg, while the 1.8-litre averages 47.1mpg – or 49.6mpg with the dual-clutch auto fitted.

Equipment levels are high. As well as the styling kit and alloy wheels, the FR comes with black-tinted rear windows, sport seats, climate control, front and rear parking sensors and an 8-speaker sound system with Bluetooth hands-free calling. On the safety front the Leon comes standard with anti-skid control (ESP), tyre-pressure monitoring and side, curtain and a driver's knee airbags.

Good points

The SEAT Leon FR cleverly offers something that looks like a natural VW Golf GTI competitor with a range of cost efficient engines that won’t break the bank to run. All FR models, whatever the engine, are fun-to-drive and the FR gets the most comfortable sport seats. As well as feeling sporty, the Leon is also surprisingly quiet – with hardly any road or wind noise intruding in the cabin. The full engine range for the FR is excellent, providing low running costs and great performance. Inside, there's been a huge leap in quality over the old model.

Bad points

There isn’t much wrong with the SEAT Leon – that's why it is Carbuyer's favourite family car. But if we were nitpicking, the Leon's practicality is slightly compromised by its high boot lip and the fact its rear seats can’t fold competely flat. Finally, the Volkswagen Golf – with which is shares many parts including engines and transmissions – feels more upmarket.

What you get

  • Alloy wheels
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Manual air conditioning
  • Front electric windows
  • Single CD player
  • Sports suspension
  • Sports seats
  • Bluetooth

Recommended optional extras

  • Tech pack (including sat-nav)

Our choice

Sporty SEAT Leon FR is well matched with the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine, which offers sprightly performance while returning 68.9mpg.

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