SEAT Leon XCELLENCE First Drive

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The current generation of the SEAT Leon has received a facelift and although it may look the same, it does has quite a new features. These include better technology, uprated engines, new safety features and adaptive cruise control (optional extra). I made the trip to Cheltenham to see what the new model is all about.

A Leon Of XCELLENCE

Also new for the Leon facelift is a new range-topping trim – the XCELLENCE. Priced from £22,000 – £22,995 for the estate – it offers key features such as keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors, wireless phone charger with signal booster, dual zone climate control, full LED headlights, automatic lights and wipers. It’s available with either the 1.4 litre petrol or the 2.0 litre diesel. These can either be fitted to either a 6-speed manual or a DSG gearbox.

The model tested here is fitted with the latter engine but with the former gearbox. 148bhp is on offer here, meaning you will hit 62mph in 8.4 seconds and then on to a top speed of 134mph. In regards to fuel economy, you can expect up to 53.3mpg on a combined run and CO2 emissions come in at a very respectable 112g/km. Not bad for a 2.0 litre diesel, eh?

What’s It Like To Drive?

I took the car our for a quick spin, so this is by no means a full comprehensive review. The inside is a nice place to be and it was extremely easy to comfortable quickly, especially as I had very little to do to get a decent driving position. You’ll remain once comfortable once you hit the open road, this is because the XCELLENCE also comes standard with comfort suspension. This does seem a little contradictory considering the car comes fitted with sports seats.

SEAT Leon XCELLENCE
These sports seats are rather comfy and offer a good level of support

That aside though, let’s focus on the drive. The diesel engine is smooth, pulls well and offers a good level of performance. The 6-speed manual gearbox to which it is mated is a pleasure to use, it’s throws feel sturdy and assured. The diesel engine is impressively quiet at cruising speeds, adding to the good levels of refinement. I will admit, there was some road and wind noise, so the drive was not completely quiet, but it certainly doesn’t make a racket.

SEAT Leon XCELLENCE

The steering has got a nice weight to it and the chassis offers a decent amount of grip, so you’ll find the Leon handles well. The steering could do with a bit more feel if you ask me, but other than that it’s a definitely capable car in the corners. The diesel offers a fair bit of grunt too, so although this is not as performance focussed as the Cupra, it should still offer a drive dynamic enough for the majority of driver’s needs.

SEAT Leon XCELLENCE

What About Rivals?

Well the medium-sized hatchback sector isn’t exactly sparsely populated, so the Leon will have a fight on its hands. And that’s before it gets outside the VAG bunch of cars, with the Audi S3, Skoda Octavia and of course, the VW Golf, creating a civil war.

Vauxhall Astra

Outside of that though, it’s main rivals will be cars such as the Vauxhall Astra and the Ford Focus, two cars that have sold very well in the UK for as long as I can remember. Luckily for the Leon, the equivalent Astra is almost £2,000 more expensive than the Leon tested here. However, that does offer heated seats in the rear as well as the front, but keyless entry and front and rear parking sensors need to be added on as optional extra.

Ford Focus

The equivalent Ford Focus on the other hand would cost just over £26,000 and includes park assist and bi-xenon headlights, but it does not offer features such as wireless phone charging. Other than that though, the Focus offers a similar specification to that of the Leon.

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