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Seat Leon FR+ TDI CR 5-door
THE question arises: what exactly does the motorist who really enjoys their driving actually want out of a car.
Good looks? An obvious tick.
Enthralling ride? Check? Some toys to play with? Yes, please. Decent economy? That, too. Practical? It may need to be able to carry a family. And the engine... petrol or diesel these days, as long as it has some clout.
Any suggestions? Well, I have one right here. The Seat Leon FR+. Now we’ll come to that plus sign in a minute, but firstly let’s take a broader view of the Leon, and the FR bit.
The FR sits below the fire-breathing Cupra and Cupra R in the Leon line-up, but it remains a hot-hatch in any pub talk. It looks the part, too, with a purposeful low-slung stance and clues to the performance in the form of a honeycomb grille, twin exhaust pipes and tasty alloy wheels.
You might say that the FR has a dual personality, able to deliver quick acceleration and positively surge forward, accompanied by a meaty thrum rather than any unpleasant diesel noise, but also providing a relaxing drive in stylish surroundings when there is no need to press on.
For my road test, I chose the FR+ with six-speed manual transmission (there’s a DSG option) and powered by the turbocharged 2.0-litre TDI engine that has proved to be one of the Volkswagen group’s finest. And the FR+ gets a 170PS engine rather than the 140PS unit in the regular FR.
Now don’t get me wrong. The lesserpowered FR still packs a punch and is certainly a performance diesel car, but the extra muscle on the FR+ is one more very good reason why you might be tempted to shell out for this version.
Besides the big plus in power, the FR+ comes equipped with some tasty extra extras, including 18-inch alloy wheels rather than the set of 17-inchers on the FR, excellent bi-xenon headlamps which provide superior illumination, a Bluetooth pack, touch-screen satellite navigation, DAB radio and front parking sensors.
And although all the ingredients are there for fast and furious motoring, the FR+ still delivers a combined fuel consumption figure of 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 134g/km. Yes, this is still economical in terms of fuel consumption, and although it can’t perform the miracle of being fast and economical at the same time, you have the choice of either to suit your mood.
The five-door Leon FR+’s look is a triumph for the Spanish firm, and you’ve only to take in the honeycomb-grilled nose to see this is a car that means business. The high waist and minimal side glass further define the sporting nature, and the look is completed by a pair of concealed high rear-door handles, a snappy, slim rearlight design and modest top spoiler.
Behind the wheel, the supportive suede sports seats with big side bolsters give a comfortable driving position, while steering column adjustment and a height-adjustable driver’s seat make sure enable you to feel both tucked-in snug and in the best-possible driving position.
Sitting in those luxurious red and black seats, it feels both sophisticated and sporty as the red and white lighting fills the display area.
Don’t expect fireworks from set-off, but do expect a gradual release of power and torque. The car positively relishes being chucked about, with power spread across the rev range, and although the ride is firm it is not uncomfortably so for a performance car.
You can have confidence in the grip, supplemented by the XDS electronic differential – which will gradually be installed on other Seat models – and the array of dynamic aids. In addition, there’s an improved braking system that provides for smoother, more effective stopping.
All this leads to one more question: should I buy one? Well, the FR+ costs about £1,200 more than the FR and you not only get a load of extra kit for that premium but you will save an awful lot more when it is compared with the equivalent VW Golf GTD.
The FR+ has a lot of plus points going for it.
Seat Leon FR+ TDI CR 5-door
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel unit delivering 170PS
TRANSMISSION: six-speed manual transmission driving the front wheels (DSG available)
PERFORMANCE: top speed 133mph, 0-62mph 8.2 seconds
ECONOMY: 55.4mpg combined
CO2 RATING: 134g/km