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New three-door adds to sporty Leon’s appeal 


You can’t have too much of a good thing – well that’s what I discovered when I sampled the latest SEAT Leon models.

I had just enjoyed a week driving an excellent five door Leon 1.4 TSI FR when I was invited along to sample the newly-arrived three-door versions – their SC models.

The third-generation Leon is built on the same MQB platform as the Golf and A3 and is a huge improvement over it prede-cessor.

It has a much more sporting look, enhanced by the fitment of LED daytime running lights – a first in the family hatch-back class.

The interior has a higher quality feel to it and there is more space for passengers, especially in the rear. Luggage volume also increases by 40 litres to 380 litres.

There is a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines, ranging from 1.2 to 2 litres and I loved the 1.4-litre 138bhp petrol unit in the five-door model.

Acceleration actually felt quicker than its 8.2 seconds time from standstill to 62mph and the six-speed manual transmission was super slick going up and down the gears.

This is a model that you can amble around town in or enjoy some fast, exciting driving with as it gripped the tarmac at speed and produced a fierce growl from its twin exhaust pipes.

Handling and comfort couldn’t be faulted and another plus from this sporty performer is its claimed 54.3mpg average fuel consumption.

This SEAT has a lot going for it but if you fancy a bit less – like two fewer doors – then the first three-door Leon could be the model for you.

The SC, short for Sports Coupe, is completely rede-signed from the A-pillars backwards which includes a lower roofline, new tailgate, different rear three-quarter windows, and more prono-unced rear blisters over the wheel arches.

There is a slight loss of headroom but the rear seats will still accommodate six-footers and luggage space stays the same.

The SC shares the same three trim levels as the five door – S, SE and FR – and also comes with those full-LED headlights.

Prices are £300 less than the five-door hatch, model for model, starting at £15,370 for the SC S 1.2 TSI and rising to the top-of-the-range FR 2.0 DSG at £22,335.

I sampled the entry-level model and thought this 104bhp petrol unit was quite punchy.

Okay, it needed to be dropped down the six-speed manual gearbox when extra oomph was required, but it was quiet enough at motorway speeds.

Standard equipment on this trim, five-door and SC, includes air conditioning, remote central locking, Easy Connect five-inch touchscreen media system including Bluetooth preparation and media streaming, AUX-in and USB posts, and steering wheel controls.

SC models also include sports-shaped front seats for S and SE models,

Moving up to a couple of the top performers, I enjoyed the spor-ting performances of the FR 182bhp 2.0 TDI and FR 178 1.8 TSI DSG-auto.

The TDI set a blistering pace as it sped through the six-speed manual gearbox, boasting a sprint time of 7.5 seconds from zero to 62mph and top speed of 142mph.

Even quicker off the mark though was the DSG-auto as it can reach 62mph in 7.2 seconds and is capable of 139mph.

Mid-range acceleration in both models was tremendous and with super agility they deliver big time in sporting driving enjoyment for the SC range.

There’s lots of choice in this highly-appealing, third-generation Leon range and there will be even more later in the year when SEAT introduces its estate models.