Already arguably the most dynamic looking hot hatch, the arrival of the new FR sees the Leon step up another gear in the visual department with a host of sporty design touches. The changes include the side mirrors, new rear window (which is the whole width of the hatch now), revised air intakes and a smaller front grille. The taillights are smaller, too. There is a finely tuned sport suspension, 17'' Albea alloy wheels, a new front bumper in body colour, a double chromed exhaust pipe, a gearshift knob and three spoke leather steering wheel with the FR logo, and molded sport seats with the exclusive FR upholstery and FR logo.
The bigger news lies beneath the bonnet, with a fettled engine range. Conversely, this same VW Jetta, with the upcoming TDI engine, should come in at about 140 horsepower/ 236 lbs of torque. It is a 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder (.5 liter smaller and one less cylinder than the base-model Jetta), yet the diesel only loses 10 horsepower and improves on the gasser by 66 lbs of torque. And although it is rather peaky, the diesel packs plenty of punch, and its torquey nature means you don't need to change gear too often. The petrol Leon FR gets a new engine, too, in the shape of the new 208bhp 2-litre TSI which is seemingly the same engine as in the new VW Golf GTI. There's also a 158bhp 1.8-litre TSI petrol if you want performance from the next rung down the Leon ladder.
You can feel the difference technology makes in the new Seat Leon FR. It comes in the form of the ultra-new XDS - standard on the Leon FR - an advanced traction control system that is linked to our Electronic Stability Program (ESP), providing each wheel with just the right amount of pressure to maximize traction and improve response throughout the curve. Meaning, the wheels of the Leon FR can go at different speeds when they need to - keeping you on the road in dynamic fashion.
Consumption in normal road use and a city connected with the air conditioning was 7.3 l/100 km. To travel 300 km on highway and two-way road at an average of 106 km / h with some changes of pace because of traffic, has spent 7.0 l/100 km. Consumption on the combined cycle is also minor (7,8 liters per 100 kilometers compared to 7,9 of the manual model).
Inside the Leon FR there's the new instrument cluster with new white dial design that glows a piercing red when the lights are on. The FR also has a new radio CD MP3 with controls in the steering wheel, 8 speakers and a combined USB/Aux-in port (CUP).
Of course being a Seat there are no real reliability issues. Seat is part of the VW/Audi group, and is assembled with the same care and competence. The Reliability Index says Seat perform better than most with respect to the frequency and costs of repairs.
The boot release is the rear Seat badge, but once the tailgate is lifted, the Leon's decent sized 341-litre boot is exposed. It's not class-leading, but big enough for a couple of suitcases (fold the seats and space expands to 1,166 litres)
After test driving the Seat Leon FR you'll agree with Jeremy Clarkson; British speed limits need to be increased! The Leon FR will arrive in the UK in July 2009.
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