Seat Leon FR
sleek, bullet-nosed Seat hatch is fast and fuel-efficient
the smooth flowing lines of the Seat Leon FR
How I love technology... this baby's lights even go around the corner with you, s'true. Driving at night with the Seat's lights on, when turning the steering-wheel the lights follow the direction of the car, and when you straighten out the lights straighten... clever hey. And if the car is laden with extra passengers in the rear the lights dip according, so they're always set right, so unless you're driving around with your 'brights' on, or with your 'fog-lights' on, on a clear, cloudless night, other road uses won't be blinded by your lights.
But the best thing about the Seat Leon FR is the powerful, yet user-friendly, 2-liter turbo-charged mill. The FR can accelerate from a sedate 80 up to 230kph without changing gears, and if you really wanna get a move-on, just push the pedal-to-the-metal and... you're there, effortlessly.
Drove the Seat from Joburg to Durban and back in a day, and the trip was a pleasure... no sweat.
It has teardrop headlights with
integrated indicators and a large, inverted-trapezoid grille. The front wheel
arch is the starting point of the design hallmark of the new Seats, a dynamic
line that sweeps over the wheel arches and slopes across the front and rear
doors to finish at the rear wheels.
The Leon’s coupé appearance is accentuated by its sloped windscreen and downwards-sloping roofline. The rear door handles are concealed in the door frames to further the design.
The rear is dominated by the large hatch with elongated rear light clusters, capped by a spoiler and third brake light. The big "S" symbol in the middle of the hatch is also the boot release, a Seat signature feature.
Soft-touch fascia has a neatly shrouded instrument cluster housing three oval, black dials with white backlighting and red needles.
The centre console is tilted slightly towards the driver and houses the audio and air-conditioning. It appears to be suspended, allowing for an oddments tray, two cup holders, plus hazard warning button.
Steering column is adjustable for height and reach, while controls for both audio and phone are within the racy three-spoke steering wheel.
The rear seats can accommodate three (fairly slim) people, which splits and folds asymmetrically. With both side folded boot space is increased from 341 to 1166 litres.
The Macpherson strut independent front suspension is mounted on a new aluminium sub-chassis with a 23.6mm diameter anti-roll bar, made more effective by reducing the distance from anchoring point to wheel centre. Rear suspension is by an independent four-arm multilink axle with an anti-roll bar, enabling longitudinal dynamics (comfort) to be handled separately from lateral dynamics (agility).
The electrical power-steering system varies its weight to match speed and steering wheel angle and forms part of the cars Electronic Stability Programme. When the car detects oversteer it instructs the system's electric motor to "weight" the steering wheel's movement in the opposite direction. The driver senses this as a recommendation and is prompted to turn the wheel in that direction to re-stabilise the car. The system doesn't steer the car, however - that's up to the driver. The ESP also has an electronic differential lock and emergency brake assistance.
everything at your fingertips
interior is functional and comfortable with body-hugging bucket-seats
two-litre Turbo FSI engine features a continuously variable intake manifold,
internal exhaust-gas recirculation and its turbocharger in unit with the exhaust
Seat quotes 147kW and 280Nm between 1800 and 5000rpm and says the car can accelerate from 80 - 120kph in top gear in 9.6 seconds. It will sprint from 0-100km/h in 7.2sec, cover a standing kilometre in 28.4 secs and reach 230kph – all on 8.1 litres/100km. The 2.0 TFSI FR comes with a six-speed manual gearboxe.
The Leon FR has many convenient features, like built-in Bluetooth connectivity that requires no physical connection between the vehicle and cellphone. The driver can link his phone to the car's network and use it "hands-free" via the steering wheel's buttons and multifunction control lever.
A headlight sensor turns the lights on or off depending on ambient light and a tiny rain sensor in the tinted windscreen controls the wipers.
The Leon also has an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, cruise control and an on-board data computer.
A tyre-pressure monitor detects pressure loss and warns the driver via a light on the dashboard; once tyre pressure is corrected, a button in the transmission tunnel must be pressed to reset the system.
The Leon is the first Seat with up to eight airbags. Six are standard: driver and front passenger, two front side, plus two curtain airbags, supplemented by optional rear side bags.
The front end has been designed to minimise injuries caused to pedestrians in a collision; the bonnet and its hinges absorb energy in a controlled sequence without losing strength.
Pressure sensors in the front doors shorten airbag response time in the event of side collisions, combining with acceleration sensors in the rear wheel arches to detect a side impact within seven milliseconds.
In a collision, the control unit triggers the seat belts and crash bags as appropriate, releases the car's central locking, shuts off the fuel pump and turns on the hazard and courtesy lights.
2-liter Turbo FSI motor
nice, easy to read dash with on-board computer tells you all you need to know - photos Kenn
Thanks to Meena Motiram and all at Seat SA for the exciting, white-knuckle drive.
The Seat Leon FR was such fun to drive - and there's not too many on the road.