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Seat Leon FR TDI

Date: 05 July 2006

Seat Leon FR interior

Category: Lower medium Price: £16,995-£17,495
On sale: July 15 Key rival: VW Golf GTi

Sport-themed Seats arrive as regularly as the seasons, but the Leon FR is spring, summer, autumn and winter rolled into one for the Spanish company. If the old Leon FR's anything to go by, and Seat is positive it is, then these petrol and diesel range-toppers will become the best-selling models.

They certainly sound appealing. The petrol borrows the 200PS turbo 2.0-litre from the Golf GTi to undercut it by more than £3000 at £16,995, while the diesel uses the mighty 170PS VW 2.0 unit to sell for £500 more. When they go on sale mid July, they'll draw in enough private and fleet customers to grab almost 40% of Leon sales.

Seat's optimism starts with costs. The diesel keeps a lid on tax at 161g/km and 22%, and the petrol's not miles behind at 190g/km for a 25% band. That translates to an achievable 47mpg for the diesel and a less likely 36mpg for the turbo'd petrol. Leon residuals have always been solid and the price guides are backing the FR to follow suit.


Visually the FR puts more space between the standard Leon and its image nemesis, the similarly styled Altea mini-MPV. Racier bumpers, 17in wheels and FR stamps on the new leather-wrapped steering wheel proclaim the power effectively, while underneath stiffer suspension and bigger brakes deal with the effects. Top-spec kit comes in the form of dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a trip computer and electric folding mirrors.

We're ready to go Formula Racing. Once you've crossed the 2k rpm threshold, the 170PS diesel is a mighty powermaker and can leave the petrol feeling a bit gutless on fast overtakes. Just a bit mind. Mostly the petrol's sheer flexibility and virtual lack of turbo lag is every bit as addictive as the Golf GTi's. Coupled with paddle-operated shifts of the automated DSG 'box (due later in the year) and the grin can go no wider. Not a serious business car? Picture a fleet of TDI FRs in yellow outside reception, each discreetly logo'ed, advertising, driver reward and bottom-line costs all covered nicely.