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BusinessCar first sampled the Leon in advance of its launch in 2.0-litre TDI 150 guise, but the smaller, more frugal 1.6 TDI 105 tested here is even more appropriate for fleets.
For starters, it's tipped to be the best-selling model in the range, specifically in mid-level SE trim, and not least because it musters 74.3mpg and 99g/km. Granted, the 45hp power deficit is noticeable between this model and the 2.0-litre, and the engine does require some effort as a result, but it is happier to be revved than your average diesel and it's reasonably quiet - not to the extent of the VW Golf or the Audi A3 with which it shares its underpinnings, but it is hushed and comfortable enough to impress given its more affordable status. It's not what you'd call a thrilling driving experience, but at the same time there's nothing not to like, either. Again, think Golf but cheaper and you're about there.
The Leon is more mature than its predecessor in every sense, including in the cabin. Classy piano-black materials make up the upper half and have even made their way onto the wiper and indicator stalks. This is complemented by a solid build, although the lower-level areas of the cabin are a little more flimsy and give away the Seat's more budget standing within the VW Group.
With that in mind, the Leon's biggest worry is VW Group rival the Skoda Octavia. It's much bigger (it has a 590-litre boot) but the engine, Golf underpinnings and mpg and CO2 figures are identical. However, in SE trim, it's more expensive than the Seat at £19,185, and a poorer RV of 33.9% leaves it trailing on the CPM front at 42.9ppm next to the Leon's 41.1ppm.
The Spanish model's sharper styling means there's plenty of emotional appeal there, too, and for those obsessed with cutting CO2 there is an even more eco-friendly version due in late 2013, which will almost certainly be badged Ecomotive and is tipped to be on a par with the forthcoming Golf Bluemotion at less than 90g/km.
Seat Leon 1.6 TDI CR 105 SE
Model price range
Cost per mile
BIK 20/40% per month
3yrs 60,000 mls
Most cost-effective of VW Group's excellent lower medium family.