let’s talk about the 2017 seat Leon FR, the tamer, more affordable version of the beast that is the Leon Cupra hot hatch. Now, the Neuer Seat FR model has a sports suspension kit, twin chrome exhausts and there’s even up to 181bhp if you go for one of the diesel. But can the FR put a smile on the faces of those who may have just missed out on Leon Cupra ownership? And can it compete against a Ford Focus Black Edition, Renault Megane GT or any of the many other slightly warm hatchbacks out there? Let’s find out.
2017 Seat Leon FR Honest Review
Now, there is a few things that help you distinguish this model from the standard Leon, such as the FR kick plates when you climb in, the sporty-style seats and the leather-wrapped gear knob and steering wheel. And this steering wheel is flat-bottomed and comes with FR badging as well.
Layout wise though, it’s very similar to a Golf – with the Golf being ever so slightly plusher – but the Leon still offers a very easy to digest stylish design and our FR model comes with everything from sat-nav to Bluetooth and cruise control to parking sensors.
And for an extra £150 you can get Apple Car Play, Android Auto and MirrorLink with the Full Link package. Practicallity up front is pretty good as well you’ve got this sliding arm rest which has cubby holes inside, some decent sized door bins, decent sized glove box and two cup holders.
So, as a more chiselled version of a Golf, you may expect practicality to be lacking back here, but it really isn’t. I mean, you’ve got loads of leg room, loads of head room and you’ve even got enough elbow room for a middle passenger.
Now the boot might look a bit awkward due to this high loading lip, but once you get over it – literally – there’s actually plenty of space on offer just under 400 litres in fact.
If you want to expand storage space even further, you can fold these seats down There are a fair few drivetrain options on the FR, but today we’ve got the 148bhp 1.4-litre EcoTSI petrol mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
Now this petrol for the VW group has become almost as interchangeable as its MQB platform and for a very good reason – and in the 2017 Seat FR it feels like a bigger engine, hitting the 62mph mark in just 8 seconds flat. You do get a bit of turbo lag, but that is low down the revs, I’m mean really low at about 1,200rpm, and once you blast past that you get a rather healthy 250Nm of torque which in a car this size feels pretty potent.
If you want to add a bit more excitement, you can engage Sport Mode, which appears in the driving modes menu with a little racing flag next to it. Now, I have pretty much had this in Sport Mode since I got it, and that’s for two reasons. Number one, it sharpens up the throttle response and makes it that bit more menacing, and two, there’s no compromise when it comes to comfort.
I mean sure you can tell that the suspension is firmer overall but its still really well balanced, and can pretty much iron out speed bumps, potholes, anything like that If you do want to drive it more sedately then you can throw it into Eco mode, which limits the throttle response – and this goes together with a nifty cylinder deactivation feature which allows for CO2 of just 114g/km, and on a mixture of different roads – country roads, motorways – you should be able to get between 40 to 50mpg.
Steering is nice and precise in the Nuevo 2017 FR as well, and when combined with this six-speed manual gearbox, you can just eat up winding roads. No its not got anything as fancy as a fully independent rear suspension, and yes if you push it like you might push a hot hatch, then it can come a little undone – but there’s just something about the Leon FR that feels right.
No its not a fire breathing dragon, but it does a pretty good job of playing the part of a compact flamethrower. So what is hot hatch-esque ownership going to cost you? Well, you can have a 2017 Leon FR for £20,500 – that’s £2,300 more than a standard Leon hatch but £8,000 less than a Leon Cupra.
So it’s pretty obvious that I like this car. And the main reason for that is because it doesn’t just flirt with the idea of being sporty – it is sporty, I mean it’s a proper little pocket rocket. And if you’re after something that’s a step closer to the Leon Cupra, then yeah, this is brilliant.
There are other warm hatches out there that are very entertaining, to be honest some of them actually offer a more adept drive – but there’s no denying, the Leon FR is worthy of that that Formula Racing badge. But what do you think of the FR?