The start point for the best source of fleet information
Seat is branching out from what used to be a single five-door model for the Leon with this sportier-looking three-door variant plus a cavernous estate that will follow in early 2014.
The Leon SC costs £300 less than the five-door, although it does get standard sports seats not fitted to its more practical sibling, and the boot is an identical 380 litres, putting it level with the best of its rivals, as it's matched by both the three-door Volkswagen Golf and the Vauxhall Astra GTC. The Kia Proceed is 18 litres shy, and the Renault Megane Coupe only offers 344 litres.
The Leon SC isn't dramatically styled, like the Astra GTC for example, but offers a more subtle class and appeal. While it closely resembles the five-door, every panel back from the windscreen is different, and it's 35mm shorter.
The 99g/km 1.6 TDI SE will in time be the best seller, but initially Seat is seeing a higher than expected percentage of orders for the 2.0-litre diesels of 184hp and, driven here, 150hp, and the mix of top-spec FR models is richer from launch.
The 150hp diesel emits just 106g/km, which is good for a car that looks and performs like this, and the 184hp model, costing just over £1000 more, sits in the same benefit-in-kind band with 109g/km. There are also three petrol engines ranging from 105hp to 180hp, and a range-topping performance Cupra version expected in 2014.
The FR trim level costs £1545 more than the middle SE trim, and adds 17-inch alloys, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, sports suspension and Seat Drive Profile, which has four different settings from sport to economy. That equipment is housed in a cabin of impressive quality that's logically laid out.
Plus, until the end of September, customers benefit from a launch offer of the Tech pack, with a list price of £1075, free of charge. Consisting of navigation, DAB radio and full LED headlights, the equipment is valued at £1915.
The Leon SC handles tidily, as is the case with its five-door sibling, although it can't quite match the impressive Astra GTC. This model also benefits from being more powerful and faster than its main equivalent rivals, which, with the exception of the Volkswagen Golf, are all at least 20hp less powerful than the Leon. The engine suits the Leon's mildly sporty characteristics, and makes for a good balance of power and economy.
Where Seat's first-ever three-door Leon really triumphs, though, is on whole-life costs, where a competitive P11D and residual beaten only by the VW Golf among its rivals mean a cost per mile victory that rounds off a package that appeals on all levels.