SEAT Leon review - a Golf fighter at every level - SEAT Leon engine and gearbox
SEAT's Leon is much more than a Volkswagen Golf understudy
The Cupra gets all the column inches in our magazine, but there’s more to the Leon range than its mighty flagship model. The engine choice is extensive, with power outputs in the petrol line up ranging from 113- to 177bhp, excluding those Cupras. There's suitable choice in the diesel lineup too, with a 1.6-litre TDI available with 113bhp, or a 2.0-litre TDI with either 148bhp or 181bhp.
All engines, petrol and diesel, are turbocharged, allowing them to offer excellent torque and power combined with reasonable economy. Of the petrol line-up the 148bhp 1.4 TSI ACT stands out, not just because it uses clever cylinder deactivation to improve economy - dropping to two cylinders imperceptibly when not under load - but because all that efficiency doesn’t come at the expense of performance. It’s quick.
Where offered, on the 108bhp 1.2 TSI and 177bhp 1.8-litre TSI, the automatic is a seven-speed DSG unit, its extra ratio helping improve economy and while it's usually slick-shifting, it occasionally fluffs a change if you’re hesitant with the throttle. All the remaining petrol engines feature an accurate, pleasingly mechanical feeling six-speed manual gearbox.
The entry-level 1.6-litre TDI has to make to with a five-speed manual, but the 2.0-litre units get the same slick six-speed as the petrols. However, while the smaller diesel gets the option of the seven-speed DSG, the larger TDIs have to make do with the older six-ratio twin-clutch, which is feeling its age now. Both upshifts and downshifts feel lazier than rival units, plus it doesn't respond as crisply to the throttle.
New for the 2017 facelift is VW's excellent new 1.0-litre three cylinder TSI engine producing 113bhp, this engine is very close in terms of performance to the 1.2 TSI, but gains an extra 6.6mpg and slips the Leon into a cheaper tax bracket.