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The way my friend sold me this car was, he told me it was a golf. Its true. It is a golf, same parent company same chassis and mostly interchangeable parts. Youre buying a golf, without the badge. Which im surprised and ashamed to say is a factor for some people.
There are a few different versions of the 1.9 TDIs. 90, 110, 130 and the 150. I bought the 130 but also test drove the 90. Bit of a difference, not much. The turbos dont seem to kick in till quite high up the rev band, and thats the only major difference, a larger turbo. Second hand there doesnt seem to be much difference in price between the models, so I wouldnt let it worry you.
Full electric windows, fully adjustable seats and steering column. Electric wing mirrors. Truly horrible controls on the air conditioning. Truly, truly awful. About fifty presses of various buttons to change from one setting to another.
It is possible to have some fun after the turbo has kicked in. The car is near perfect for motorways, as there is so much power at the higher revs. 40-70mph is a dream.
Suspension is stiff. Too stiff for my liking. But not so much as to break your back. I just cant see why they set it up that way.
Havent had any trouble with mine in two years other than the horn breaking. Which apparently happens alot. Its mounted under the front bumper and so gets pelted with all the water and crud off the road. Just pull the old one out and screw the new one in. Sorted. Twenty quid.
Overall Im happy. And since Ive heard that 150,000 miles isnt much for these, I'll expect to remain happy for some time to come.
Well, it is a bit boring, but it's not bad compromise considering the benefits. The economy, quality and second hand price more than make up for the fact it's not exactly a race car. At about 50-60 mpg, I can hardly blame it if it isn't terrifyingly quick, though the fact it handles pretty well lets you have some fun on those narrow, twisting country roads. It's a great all-rounder with only a couple of let downs.
Although I adored my previous car, a BMW 325i, it was no fun turning up at the petrol station every 3 or 4 days, having only covered a couple of hundred miles, and throwing more money down the drain. It was time for a change and after many hours trawling the net, the leon seemed like an attractive option. It hasn't disappointed me and although it has less soul and character than some other cars I've had, it is impossible to dislike a car that is this economical.
As I said, it's not staggeringly fast in a straight line, 0-60 in about 11 seconds, which isn't sluggish, but it's just not that quick. It's not meant to be though. Instead, the engine has plenty of torque to drag you along at low speed in higher gears, but put your foot down, let the turbo kick in and you're gently, but firmly propelled on a wave of torque till about 3500 rpm. Exciting stuff.
Although I'm being a little sarcastic, it isn't that slow and it never really struggles and it certainly makes up for lack of speed in terms of handling. Considering it's front wheel drive, you have to push quite hard for any significant under-steer. When it does slide it's controllable and progressive, giving you a a fair bit of confidence chucking it into a bend. The best technique for embarrassing those pesky boy racers is to build up moment and carry it through a corner, leaving them stuck in a hedge somewhere.
The steering has a reasonable amount of feel to it, though it's not as taut as it could be, but it is by no means poor. The brakes are sharp and responsive, nothing to get too excited about but they certainly do the job. Overall, it's still quite a sporty (I use the term loosely) drive if not exactly fast. They can be re-mapped to produce an extra 20 bhp or so over what you already have, but I'm not too bothered about this for now.
The SE model has enough equipment to make it worth the £2500 or so you will pay for it. Electric windows, climate control, central locking, electric mirrors (which you can set to fold in when you park) adjustable steering wheel, alloy wheels, disc brakes all round with abs, even a cute little cup holder that pops out of the dash. Overall, there is certainly not a lack of technology, though it could of course be more luxurious, but where do you stop? It has everything I expected out of a car that price and it is all high quality.
It's practically a volkswagen, so the quality is fairly high. The doors shut with a weighty thud, all the levers and buttons have a tactile quality to them and the engine itself has never missed a beat. There seems to be issue with the door seals common to all Leons, mine is leaking slightly on the passenger side but barely, and it looks like an easy fix. This does, however, cause it to steam up a bit in cold weather, which is perpetual in England, so it is annoying me slightly. The paintwork seems pretty tough and there's no rust appearing anywhere, which is partly down to the care of previous owners, but I'm confident that the Leon has played it's own part. A very slight niggle is that the steering wheel is quite smooth so sometimes you can loose grip on it a bit, but very rarely and only if your hands are very cold. The quality leaves very little to be desired and certainly exceeds newer, frencher hatchbacks and other similar vehicles.
I'm sure you can tell that I don't just potter about in this car and sometimes it gets a damn good thrashing. Even so, it is still unbelievably economical. About 50-60 mpg and god knows what on a long run. Like I said, you can forgive this car for lack of power and any other little problems because it's just so economical. The attendant in the petrol station no longer recognises me and I can actually buy things for me rather than the car.
On the whole, it is very reliable. However, on a cold morning it has a bit of trouble starting. Changing the glow plugs hasn't solved this problem and I've yet to investigate further. Luckily the engine will eventually start so it's not the end of the world, but it would be nice to get this sorted out. Even with this problem, it has never let me down and once the engine's turned over, it runs perfectly fine. I've seen a few other people reporting this problem so if you are going to test drive one, insist you start it from cold. Preferably ask them to leave it overnight as it seems to take a good 8 or 9 hours to cool down to the point where it has trouble starting.
On the whole, it's a pretty good car that doesn't necessarily have to be all compromise to gain economy. For me, it lacks a little flair and character, but it is reliable and extremely economical. Whether you like the way it looks is up to you, but I don't find it particularly offensive and from some angles it does look quite nice. It's pleasant to drive, comfortable and solid. I couldn't ask much more from it.
I have had my 1.9tdi (90bhp), S, metallic dark blue SEAT Leon (Mk1) now for eighteen months so feel that I have given it a thorough enough road test to write a relatively comprehensive review here.
For those that dont know, SEAT is owned by the Volkswagen Group which also own, VW, Skoda and Audi. It will come as no surprise therefore the Leon is a direct derivative from the Audi A3, VW Golf and Skoda Octavia. Generally VW group cars are well built and have a reputation for reliability. It is my opinion that they are now no more reliable than the other main manufacturers such as Ford and Vauxhall but image and reputation counts for a lot in the car industry. However, whilst VWs carry a financial premium for the reputation, the same is not generally true of SEAT who are still trying to increase sales in the UK. This means that real bargains can be found as SEAT often discount their cars more than those of the more in demand VWs.
This was certainly the case with my car. I paid £5,500 for a 4.5year old 1.9 turbo-diesel with just 27,000 on the clock from a dealer. It comes with a 6-CD changer (located in the glove box) a cassette player (remember those!?), Air-Conditioning, twin front and side airbags, ABS and Electric Brake Distribution (EBS). A comparative VW Golf would have been approximately £2,000 £3,000 more expensive. I should point out that the increasingly popular New Leon (Mk II) has devalued second hand old shape models. This is great news for those looking for a sporty coupe with family practicality!
The exterior of the Mk 1 Leon was slightly ahead of its time. It gives off a coupe look whilst in reality being a family hatchback. The sporty looks, especially from behind, makes them stand out. They certainly look different to most other cars on the road (especially of the generation of vehicle in question) and, in my opinion, still look more modern than the newly upgraded Ford Focus. Indeed, I have even had colleagues (and even strangers in the street) ask me how much my car cost and what it is!
The paintwork on my car looks impressive; although being dark coloured (metallic Imperial Blue which also looks slightly purple in some lights) is difficult to keep clean. Being second hand, there are a few small scratches and chips but when clean it sparkles as if new. Being five years old (a 51 plate) this is a testament to the quality bodywork and paint finish used by SEAT. The rear section looks sporty enough to please me, yet family enough to keep the fiancée happy that I have purchased this car to carry future children and all their un-biodegradable junk around! It also has a nice touch of the boot handle being incorporated into the SEAT logo.
The interior of the car is excellent. It is large enough to seat four adults comfortably and five at a squeeze. A few official reviews say that rear headroom is lacking but during the few trips I have been fully loaded with adults I have never had any complaints in this regard. The rear seats have ISOFIX seat belts which, apparently, make it safer to use child seats with although I have no idea as I dont have children yet! The front console seems to have been well thought out and nothing seems strangely located. The steering wheel is adjustable for reach and height and there is good visibility from the drivers seat. Both front seats are also height adjustable (as well as recline-able) meaning that even small people (like me!) can quickly obtain a good driving position. The interior looks exactly the same as the same generation VW Golf (not a lot of difference from the Audi A3). The boot is also large enough to comfortably accommodate a childs pushchair and a few bags. On a recent weeks holiday to Wales, myself and fiancée took three suitcases (two of them seemed full of her shoes!) and all of them fitted in the boot.
The acceleration on mine is a little slow the 90bhp being the slowest diesel the VW Group made at the time. However, it is more than adequate and I am never found in need of any more. It cruises beautifully at 70+mph on the motorway and above all attains good fuel economy. The on-board computer informs me that I am getting around 58mpg but my distrust of computers lead me manually work this out and I actually achieve 53mpg (I actually ran out of fuel working this out!) Either way this is an impressive combined figure especially as I drive to and from work in central Northampton at rush hour. This works out to about 570 miles to a tank (currently costing approx £45 at 90p/litre).
The only real design faults I can think of with the Leon concern the rear of the car. Firstly I find it difficult to reverse. Perhaps this is due to my (lack of) height but the sloped rear-windscreen doesnt make it easy to determine how much room you have to reverse into. The second is that whilst the car has a generous boot space, it is rather high off the ground and you are tempted to rest slightly heavier loads onto the bumper which might cause scratches (Im guessing this is exactly what my cars previous owner did!).
The car handles nicely and never feels like it is going to lose grip. It gives a nice smooth ride and you get a good feeling of safety. The gearbox and clutch is smooth and the car feels nice as you change gear. The interior noise is minimal although as this is an old sounding diesel engine (compared to some of the recent offerings) the engine noise does impose into the cabin occasionally (especially early in the morning).
With regards to the reliability of my car I dont really have any complaints. The only thing that has needed replacement was the brakes (new discs and pads). This cost just under £200 at my local fast-fit centre. Unfortunately these intermittently squeak since they have been replaced and despite a few trips to the fitter they have yet to stop. Having spoken to another colleague (who purchased a Leon because he liked mine so much) his has had a similar complaint (his brakes were purchased elsewhere). The only other minor gripe is the MW reception on the radio which varies from superb to incoherent. Im suspecting a loose aerial connection but am not concerned enough to delve further (FM reception is perfect).
I cannot comment on dealership support as I generally try not to use mainstream dealership networks. With the 3 year / 60,000mile warranty already expired there seems little point in paying the inflated costs of a mainstream dealer. I did phone my local dealership regarding a service and a cam-belt change. They wanted £475 compared to £235 at my local independent garage!
So, all in all, would I recommend a SEAT Leon (Mk1)? In a word; yes. The car has been reliable, is cheap to run (53mpg) and insure, is roomy enough to carry several people but also looks like a sports coupe. Add to that low(ish) depreciation due to it sharing a VW platform and the Leon is great all rounder. I spent a little time looking for mine and became aware that these do not hang around on forecourts for long as they are much sought after due to their great price and reputation. It is a great mystery to me, why these never sold heavily from new. Whilst the SEAT team work out why it never sold by the bucket load, take the time to go out and get one.
We've had the 110bhp diesel now for over six months and can honestly say it is the best oil burner we've ever owned. Although it's built on the Golf floorpan, it's handling and performance are far superior to the VW flabby offering. Acceleration, braking and economy are all excellent and even noise levels are reasonbly quiet too. Full climate control is an additional bonus. Improverments could be made to: 1. Seat length 2. Poor red dashboard lighting makes it virtually impossible to read the dials at night Major problem with this car has been floor leaks to rear footwells. Save yourself a few grand on the Golf price and buy a Leon. Can't give a better recommendation than that!