ROAD TEST: SEAT Leon FR Sport e-Hybrid – a tempting package and an entertaining drive

Spanish car maker SEAT, part of the Volkswagen group, has a longer history than many realise having been formed in 1950. It was created by Spain’s government-owned Instituto Nacional de Industria, Spanish private banks, and Fiat. After 36 years the Spanish government sold SEAT to the Volkswagen Group in 1986.

SEAT has another brand in its stable now, Cupra! It appeared in 2018 and was billed as their sporting brand, and SEAT has always portrayed itself as a more sporting alternative since it became part of VW. The Cupra brand has proved very successful but now the downside is that SEAT has revealed they plan to lose the SEAT name off their range and concentrate on Cupra. Although the SEAT name may well appear on other modes of transport, for now at least the SEAT name is set to disappear from our roads.

Which proves a good opportunity to get behind the wheel of the SEAT Leon FR Sport plug in hybrid. Many SEAT models have a Cupra equivalent but the differentiation between the SEAT Leon and the Cupra Leon is the latter being a more sporting take on the former with lower ride height, bolder styling tweaks and a sportier interior.

The SEAT Leon is arguably, therefore, a more liveable daily drive as although it does sit low, and has firmed up suspension, the ride is perfectly acceptable even on our worst roads. It still retains a sporty dynamic with nicely weighted steering and feels agile and sure footed enough to prove quick, and entertaining, on twisting cross country roads.

The range starts from £23,335 and encompasses four trim levels and four engines including the plug-in hybrid. Lead-in models have air conditioning, rear parking sensors, keyless start, LED lights, CarPlay and Android Auto. The plug-in hybrid in FR Sport trim (£37,880), with power from a 1.4-litre hybrid petrol engine aided by a 75kw battery. This means you have 40 miles pure electric driving, subject to weather conditions and type of driving, and three modes – pure electric, pure petrol or a combination of the two, where the car decides which is the appropriate power and can include both petrol and electric.

In FR Sport mode standard fare includes three-zone-climate, park assist, auto dimming mirror, wireless phone charging, heated front seats and steering wheel, suede upholstery and interior wraparound interior lighting.

For those dipping an automotive pedal into EV motoring the Leon e-Hybrid is a tempting package and an entertaining drive.

Words by Mark Slack

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