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Racing Teatray

Seat Leon 1.2 TSI

Just back from 10 days in Andalucia, which was generally delightful and came with the opportunity to get to know the latest iteration of the Seat Leon as we took in Cordoba, Granada, Marbella, Ronda and Seville. When we arrived at the Hertz desk at Madrid I was offered the choice of a Fiat 500L, a Hyundai i30 or the Leon so didn't need much persuasion to plump for the local option. I have no idea what trim level (SE at a guess) it had but it had a 1.2 TSI petrol engine kicking out a healthy 110bhp. It also had just 11kms on the clock when we collected it (versus just over 1,200 by the time we dropped it off in Seville).

So, what can I say about it? Well, the latest Leon is a good-looking car, especially when daubed in a fetching shade of bright metallic blue that lifts what is otherwise a relatively conservative design only alleviated by some sharp detailing. The inside is nice too – the dashboard has an attractive and mature design, and is clear and logical. All well enough made too, if not up to my 1-series for perceived quality, particularly in the way the centre console around the gearlever is designed. The best way I can describe it is that the interior of my M135i feels like a downscaled version of what you get in bigger BMWs whereas the Seat definitely felt a bit more everyday economy-class. Nevertheless, we liked it. It was also quite spacious and had a usefully commodious boot. Oh and a spare wheel (albeit a spacesaver) for those who prize that sort of thing. Gadget levels were fine with electric windows and mirrors, multifunction wheel and Bluetooth etc.

Now most of our driving was on beautifully smooth motorways built with lashings of EU funding and the Seat had fairly plump tyres, so naturally it felt like it had the ride quality and noise insulation of a Rolls Royce most of the time. But even when we did encounter some vaguely more scarred mountain roads around Ronda, the car rode well. So score one on that front. It also handled perfectly well without much roll and reasonably keen behaviour on twistier sections.

Second surprise was that it was admirably pokey for a 1.2, particularly one that was still box-fresh. Yes, it lacked urge off-boost, but if you made good use of the accelerator and the six-speed manual gearbox (which was no chore), it could be made to move pretty smartly. Overtaking certainly wasn't overly burdensome (even on uphill gradients) and it cruised quietly with no need to change down to 5th on motorway gradients. A night and day contrast to the 1.2 Punto we had in Italy over Easter in that respect. Then again the Punto didn't have anything like the same horsepower at its disposal.

The third surprise was the decent economy. We managed 700kms on what was presumably its first ever tank of fuel before stopping to fill up near Granada, at which point the range was still suggesting another 150kms was achievable.

Overall then, I can best describe it as being very pleasant. Not very exciting but rather the sort of car that you get out of thinking "this would be really good for my mother". My wife liked it. It's pleasant-looking, comfortable, easy to drive, possessed of perfectly adequate performance and very decent economy, and somehow just likeable. Easy-going. And a new one can be yours for around £17k, making it really quite decent value.

So thumbs up from us.
Alf McQueef

11bhp from a 1.2? That sounds impressive!

Lovely part of the world. I adore that area, all the history is incredible - and (as I found in Turkey) often barely noted by the locals, there is so much of it - Moorish, Roman, Medieval - stuff everywhere, and beautiful scenery. The mosque/cathedral in Cordoba is stunning inside. Great driving and mountain biking too!
Bob Sacamano

There are a lot of these little 1.2 turbo engines coming through now  - our Qashqai has the Nissan 1.2 dig-T engine that puts out 113bhp and Toyota are releasing an engine with identical figures. They drive like smooth 1.6s but with more low down torque, diesel fashion.
Frank Bullitt

Sounds ideal for the use the car is likely to get, that it pulls a Leon is no surprise as the unit is in the entry Yeti with he aerodynamics of a brick and it's well received in that.

Downsizing can work of well executed, I've read nothing but good things about PSA's 1.2 3-pot blown unit with 110 and 130bhp and the 0.9tce Captur I drove was punching well above its weight.
Giant

Bob Sacamano wrote:
There are a lot of these little 1.2 turbo engines coming through now  - our Qashqai has the Nissan 1.2 dig-T engine that puts out 113bhp and Toyota are releasing an engine with identical figures. They drive like smooth 1.6s but with more low down torque, diesel fashion.


These engines are old hat already, Autocar reviewed the new 1.0l blueotion Golf today, 113bhp and 147torques!!  Apparently the highest specific torque output of any 'large scale production petrol engine. Only weighs 89kg too.

Sounds very cleverly engineered (remembering VWs TSi engine, overly so?). I wonder what the limit is on these latest small engines, the numbers would have astounding even 5 years ago.
PG

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI

Racing Teatray wrote:
Second surprise was that it was admirably pokey for a 1.2, particularly one that was still box-fresh.


But it was a hire car. So by definition is way more pokey than it has any right to be.  

But seriously, these small turbo yet torquey petrol engines need to be good to get people away from their diesel fixation. And it sounds like that is starting to be the case.
Bob Sacamano

Giant wrote:
Bob Sacamano wrote:
There are a lot of these little 1.2 turbo engines coming through now  - our Qashqai has the Nissan 1.2 dig-T engine that puts out 113bhp and Toyota are releasing an engine with identical figures. They drive like smooth 1.6s but with more low down torque, diesel fashion.


These engines are old hat already, Autocar reviewed the new 1.0l blueotion Golf today, 113bhp and 147torques!!  Apparently the highest specific torque output of any 'large scale production petrol engine. Only weighs 89kg too.

Sounds very cleverly engineered (remembering VWs TSi engine, overly so?). I wonder what the limit is on these latest small engines, the numbers would have astounding even 5 years ago.


Yeah, but it'll not be reliable.
Racing Teatray

Re: Seat Leon 1.2 TSI

PG wrote:
Racing Teatray wrote:
Second surprise was that it was admirably pokey for a 1.2, particularly one that was still box-fresh.


But it was a hire car. So by definition is way more pokey than it has any right to be.  

But seriously, these small turbo yet torquey petrol engines need to be good to get people away from their diesel fixation. And it sounds like that is starting to be the case.


When my mother replaced her 2.0TDI-flavoured A3 with a 1.4T-flavoured one, I was favourably impressed by how much zip the little petrol had (I think it is circa 120bhp). But the 1.2T in the Leon felt just as punchy and if anything smoother than the 1.4T in Mum's (last generation) A3.

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