SEAT Leon SC from the passenger seat

  • Injury means our man Graeme endures a period of absence from driving
  • Our SEAT Leon 1.8TSI SC still manages to impress from the passenger seat
  • Economy takes a hit as Leon is used for far shorter journeys than usual

Us ‘hacks’ often lament the inevitable passenger ride, a launch event that means the closest you’ll get to the steering wheel is within touching distance and no more. Basically the brief being, review a new car, just don’t drive it.

Generally they’re of little use, and certainly not enough of an experience to form a definitive opinion of car. The result is they’re generally regarded as a waste of time by those under-pressure hacks working to ever stricter deadlines.

And if the car in question being piloted by an engineer or in-house manufacturer representative then it’s all too easy for them to deliberately mask any of the cars shortcomings. Be that through driving style or a carefully timed conversation designed to distract. 

Which, as I found myself facing up to three months of not being able to get behind the wheel of our SEAT Leon SC due to an unfortunate accident leaving me injured, was rather disheartening. At least my newly acquired broken neck gave me the industry’s most finely honed suspension judgement. 

SEAT Leon SC FR

Thankfully, despite its Sport suspension our Leon FR is decidedly supple – even with our car’s optional 18-inch alloy wheels that come as part of the Titanium pack (£700). And while I’d specified the heated seats primarily to help with winter chills, the one on the passenger seat proved its worth at soothing some of my back pain.

It’s testament to how easy this car is to drive that my girlfriend, now my designated driver for the three month stint, could slip happily from her ten year old Type-R into the Leon SC without as much as once slipping off the pedals. A point my poorly neck was especially happy about.

The support of the driver’s seat is obviously replicated in the passenger’s pew too and only the low roofline, which occasionally caught my be-collared head on the way into the car caused any problems for me.

SEAT Leon heated seats

It does appear our car has a little wind noise on the driver’s side though, presumably coming in through the door seal. It’s not something I’d actually noticed while driving it initially, but my time on the ‘quiet’ (passenger) side certainly revealed it.

And without being able to turn my head very far at all the slim A-pillar, which was in my direct line of limited vision, was duly noted – even if I couldn’t instinctively look left or right when approaching a junction.

What I could see was that from the passenger side of the car the slab-like dashboard presented to the driver looked a lot more sculpted, the angle of the information heavily weighted toward the person piloting the Leon. There was little evidence of this car’s value for money pricetag either, the plastics withholding my quality probing touch that kept me amused on longer journeys.

SEAT Leon cabin quality

My time in the passenger seat of the Leon wasn’t all good news though, as being deprived of my 120-mile a day return journey commute and subjected to local runs to the hospital and the occasional 20-mile each way journey to my girlfriend’s work meant fuel economy tumbled.

On one particularly long journey it managed just shy of 35mpg, but the running average at 2,144 miles was only 33.2mpg. I blame her heavy right foot as much as her short commute for that one though.

Still, this period of absence has done one thing very well – re-ignited my desire to drive this car. Even from the passenger seat it seems like a bundle of fun, and the sooner I’m back behind the wheel instead of the glovebox the better in my eyes.

Mileage: 2,144-miles

Economy: 33.2mpg (calculated)