WHEN I recently got invited to a VW event in deepest Berkshire the fact it was a 400-mile plus round trip was a bit daunting… so the selection of the right car for the job was crucial.

Something a bit sporty to make the journey more fun but also economical so I did not use too much of the ever more expensive go juice.

Step forward the Leon 5dr FR 1.5 TSI EVO 130 PS 6-speed manual, which can go from 0 to 62 in around nine seconds and hit 126mph yet returns up to 65mpg on a long run.

And the Leon also boasts comfortable yet supportive sports front seats so you arrive with a still functioning back despite over four hours on the road (yes the M6 was the usual nightmare).

Firstly it has to be said that SEAT’s impressive mileage claims seem quite achievable as the sporty hatchback averaged in the high 50s despite lots and lots of crawling traffic. This was partly down to a clever economy system which shuts down two of the four cylinders when not needed and an eco mode (there is also normal, sport and individual).

That 1498cc petrol engine proved smooth and responsive and was paired up to an excellent six speed manual box – mind you with VW technology behind it that is no surprise.

And I also appreciated the Leon’s excellent sat nav touchscreen system which got me to the very remote location and was, unlike some other manufacturers, straightforward to use.

Cruise control too was most welcome, although not adaptive, and I particularly liked the car’s smart dark blue paintwork (Mystery blue) and stylish alloy wheels.

The Leon cones in several trim levels from SE running through SE Dynamic, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence up to Xcellence Lux and with a choice of two petrol engines (1.0 and 1.5) plus 1.6 and 2-litre diesel units.

There is also a fire-breathing 370bhp version, the Cupra which has all-wheel drive and will give even the legendary Golf GTi a run for its money.

Seat is on a roll at the moment, with the latest Ibiza and Ateca SUV winning praise. However, it was the current, series three, Leon that kicked off the brand’s revival back in 2012 and this stylish hatchback was refreshed in 2017.

Under the skin, the Leon is closely related to the Audi A3, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf, while non sibling rivals include the Focus and Astra.

Prise wise the range starts at £18,260 going up to £28,785 for the Xcellence Lux. Our mid-range FR TSi Evo is £21,520 on the road.

A fourth-generation model is expected to be revealed next year so dealers may have some great offers in the coming months on the current version – which has aged well with its sporty styling and is a great all round package for those looking for a stand out family hatchback.

More information at www.seat.co.uk

By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth