Road Test: SEAT Leon SE Technology 1.0-litre TSI Ecomotive

  • Facelifted Leon features 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol 
  • Develops 115hp but promises range-best CO2 of 102g/km
  • A great alternative to diesels but restricted to lower trim level

The SEAT Leon has long been the more visually interesting alternative to the cars it shares a platform with – the VW Golf, Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia.

Now though it's having to share the limelight with the Spanish manufacturer’s similar-looking but trendier Ateca.

A raft of mid-life upgrades is on the horizon for the Leon, however, aimed at restoring some of the hatchback’s appeal against its SUV stablemate.

New engines and tech

Headline changes include the addition of this 1.0-litre petrol engine that has been previously available in Europe and makes its debut in the UK from February 2017.

It has 115hp and 200Nm of torque, both of which are largely absent at low revs due to the three-cylinder motor’s reliance on its turbocharger.

Get the engine spinning, though, and there’s plenty of get-up and go for town driving, and it doesn’t feel out of depth on the motorway either. Just don’t try to pull away in second.

Whether you pick the six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, the performance and economy figures are identical - 0-62mph in 9.6sec, a claimed 64.2mpg and 102g/km CO2.

Low running costs

That last figure is key – this engine has the lowest CO2 emissions in the Leon range, and its fuel economy figures are bettered only by the 1.6-litre diesel.

Unsurprisingly, that’s great news for company car drivers. This car’s P11D is £530 less than the equivalent diesel, and produces less CO2, so expect monthly BIK bills of £54/57 against the 1.6-litre’s £68/73 (manual/automatic for a 20% taxpayer on 2016/2017 rates).

A private motorist can expect annual VED car tax bills of £20 and more affordable finance costs thanks to the lower price of the petrol engine. If you don’t do very high miles, and can justify the extra expense of a diesel for slightly increased economy, this is the low-cost family hatchback for you.

What do I get for my money?

This engine is only available in SE Technology trim, and costs £18,995.

For that you get:

  • 16-inch alloys
  • Air-conditioning
  • LED daytime running lights
  • 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system
  • Sat-nav
  • Leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearknob
  • Cruise control

That’s a comprehensive list but it’s a shame you can’t select this engine with the FR trim, bringing with it a sporty bodykit and larger wheels.

The 8.0-inch multimedia system is new, and features an updated layout for its menus. You also lose the selector knob so everything is now controlled via the touchscreen.

Verdict

It’s been a long time coming for this engine, which has been available in a Golf, A3 and Octavia for a while.

While it restricts your selection of trim, it’s a great alternative to the old-hat 1.2-litre petrol if you don’t do high enough distances to necessitate a diesel. For low-mileage company car drivers looking to cut costs it’s also a fine choice.