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SEAT Leon SC engines, drive and performance

2013 - 2018 (change model)
Performance rating: 4 out of 54.0

Written by James Taylor Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

SEAT Leon SC performance is virtually identical to that of its five-door sibling as it shares the same engine range. The SC is lighter by 25kg but you’re unlikely to feel an obvious difference in acceleration; SEAT says it’s quicker from 0-62mph than the five-door car by around a tenth of a second.

The Leon engine line-up currently comprises three petrol and two diesel options, all turbocharged.

Petrol engines

Smallest engine is a 1.2-litre unit with 104bhp, available with either a six-speed speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic gearbox.

Next level up is a 1.4-litre engine with 138bhp and six-speed manual gearbox only.

Top of the range is an eager 178bhp 1.8-litre unit, available in top-level FR trim only with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG auto ’box. It offers plenty of performance, and pulls well even from fairly low revs. On the road it’s very quiet for the most part but at higher revs begins to sound a little strained, especially when paired with the DSG transmission which occasionally holds gears for longer than you might expect before changing up.

The twin-clutch DSG ’box changes gears very quickly and smoothly and also features steering-mounted paddles to allow drivers to change gear manually should they wish.

Diesel engines

Currently a straightforward choice between a 104bhp 1.6-litre and a 148bhp 2.0-litre unit. Both are available with either a manual (five speeds for the 1.6 and six for the 2.0) or DSG automatic transmission.

The 1.6-litre TDI engine is expected to be by far the most popular. The 2.0-litre diesel, despite having lots of power and torque, is pretty economical. It feels smooth and punchy on the road, with pulling power available from fairly low down the rev range.

On the way in the near future are a more powerful 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine and a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with Active Cylinder Technology (which shuts down some of the cylinders when not in use to save fuel).

Excellent body control makes the Leon an accomplished machine in the corners.
The SC has an ever so slightly shorter wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) than the five-door Leon by 35mm, which helps to make the car a little more agile.

You might find the steering a little on the light side, but it feels accurate and can be switched to a heavier setting in FR trim cars via the Drive Select system, which can also perk up the throttle response and change the gearchange settings in automatic cars for greater performance.

SE and FR versions are fitted with SEAT’s XDS electronic differential which gently brakes the inside wheel when cornering hard to help keep the car on line.

All FR-spec cars also come with lower suspension (by 15mm) and 20% firmer dampers, again making the car a little more agile. Despite the firmer setup, the ride quality is still very good.