Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

The FR feels suitably sporty from the driver’s seat before even starting the engine thanks to the figure hugging front seats and a very shapely gear knob and steering wheel. It’s a shame then that some of the plastics are on the hard side and don’t feel especially high quality. The steeply raked windscreen creates a distinctive feel with a large glass area that is unspoiled by windscreen wipers (which park out of sight in the windscreen pillars).

Generally the view from the driver’s seat is very good but like many modern cars the front windscreen pillars are thick. In 2009 the Leon was facelifted and the interior given an overhaul. The steering wheel, instrument dials, climate control and stereo controls were all upgraded, giving a far more upmarket feel and modern appearance.

The biggest gripe with the FR is it’s extremely stiff ride. It can be very uncomfortable on bumpy roads and makes driving quickly yet smoothly quite challenging. Oddly, the more powerful Leon Cupra has a far better ride. On TDI models, the hard ride combined with a rather noisy engine can make the FR quite a frantic car to drive. Thankfully, revised models from 2009 have a far better suspension set-up and are much smoother as a result.

It’s an area where SEAT has focussed on and the results are impressive, making the FR a much easier car to live with everyday. There’s good news elsewhere thanks to the supportive seats which are excellent on long journeys plus little wind noise at higher speeds. All FR models come with an effective climate control system and electric windows front and back.