2016 Seat Leon 1.0 TSI review
The introduction of a new petrol engine reinforces the idea that the facelifted Seat Leon is the best cheap family hatchback around
There seems little doubt that the Seat annals will mark 2016 as the year of the Ateca, the thoroughly appealing and well-rounded small SUV that (if there’s any justice) ought to significantly fatten the slender profit reported by the Spanish manufacturer recently. Nevertheless, an update to its family-sized Leon should not be understated: the Ateca might be the tree branch with all the blossom on it, but it is only there by the grace of the hatchback trunk.That is possibly truer in this year than any before it, because the current Leon has been such a conspicuous hit. There are several good reasons for this, although it’s probably fair to conclude that primary among them is the model’s cleverly creased appearance. The manufacturer has acknowledged this by being even less proactive with the styling makeover than normal: the Leon’s grille is a little larger, the bumpers slyly altered and the lights changed – but that’s about it.The changes are no more dramatic underneath. The platform and chassis are essentially unchanged, and there are only minor alterations to the engine line-up. Chief among them is the timely introduction of the VW Group’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder in 113bhp guise – a unit previously available in Europe, but available in the UK for the first time, as an entry-level option. The updated 1.6-litre TDI, with very slightly more power, is also ushered in. There are now five trim levels: S, SE Dynamic, SE Technology and FR are joined by the new range-topping Xcellence. The launch of a specifically upmarket option is indicative of the Leon’s broad success – as is the likely popularity of the pricier 1.4-litre EcoTSI engine. To ensure that no competitor beats it on the additional feature front, the Leon also gets the raft of driver assistance tech that made its debut on the Ateca, including Traffic Jam Assist, Pedestrian Protection, Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind Spot Detection and an uprated Park Assist system.