IN the past the SEAT brand has somewhat been overshadowed by its VW parent but with cars like the all new for 2020 Leon the Spanish manufacturer has been winning fans in its own right.

The hatchback line-up has been expanded with a host of new trim levels and engine options for both the Leon five door and estate.

Among the most significant is the new entry-level SE, which offers an array of safety and connectivity features as standard starting from just £19,855.

The SE comes with a 1.0-litre 110PS TSI engine delivering exceptional fuel efficiency thanks to variable geometry turbocharging which gives up to10 per cent more mpg over the previous cars.

Mild hybrid eTSI technology is available in combination with the DSG transmission on some versions which uses a 48V starter-generator and 48V lithium-ion battery allowing the Leon to coast on electric only power and also recover energy under braking.

There are now six trim levels – SE, SE Dynamic, FR, FR Sport, XCELLENCE or XCELLENCE Lux – and every Leon has as standard keyless start, LED headlight and fog lights with cornering function, cruise control with speed limiter, electronic parking brake, an 8.25-inch infotainment system with Full Link smartphone integration, leather steering wheel and gearstick, and SEAT Connect technology.

SE Dynamic upgrades the infotainment to the SEAT Digital Cockpit with Navigation, complete with 10-inch infotainment screen and 10.25-inch digital driver binnacle, Park Assist (front and rear sensors), tinted rear windows, as well as larger 17-inch ‘Dynamic’ tri-spoke alloy wheels.

The sporty FR trim level adds a host of additional exterior elements including electric folding door mirrors, sportier front and rear bumpers and 17-inch ‘Dynamic’ bi-spoke alloy wheels plus a bespoke suspension set-up (15mm lower ride height) to ensure FR models stand out from the crowd.

It was this version with the 150ps engine and DSG auto gearbox which we tested and it also had Lava Red upholstery stitching, three-zone air conditioning, wireless charging and two additional USB-C ports in the rear.

It proved a very easy car to live with and performance was lively while the car returned up to a shade under 48mpg

The FR trim also brings full-LED technology to the rear of the vehicle including the car wide rear lights treatment and LED dynamic indicators.

Our car also had the Winter Pack which includes heated front seats, heated steering wheel a unique black interior roof lining, micro-suede cloth upholstery, wraparound ambient lighting technology and exclusive 18-inch ‘Performance’ machined alloy wheels.

XCELLENCE trim brings a different look with the exterior having unique bumpers, a hot-stamped Diamond grille, chrome-framed side windows and 17-inch ‘Dynamic’ alloy wheels. Inside, the key surfaces are also finished in micro-suede cloth.

Range-topping XCELLENCE Lux adds leather upholstery, Predictive Adaptive Cruise Control technology and 18-inch ‘Performance’ machined aero alloy wheels making it the most luxurious Leon to date.

All models come with a range of safety technologies as standard such as the tiredness recognition system, lane keeping assist, XDS Electronic differential lock, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and forward collision warning with braking reaction to vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

As I said at the beginning with cars this good it is not hard to see why SEAT is building a strong customer base in the UK with their cars becoming a more regular sight on out roads.

The new Leon range starts from £19,855 for the 1-litre SE up to £29,455 for the XCELLENCE Lux 1.5 150eTSI auto and our FR Sport 1.5 150 TSI comes in at £26,425 on the road.

By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth

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