REVIEW: Seat Leon FR

It’s often said that we Irish are not big fans of station wagons or estates to give them their modern name. In the past it was often claimed that the only people who bought station wagons were newsagents, who needed to visit their local cash and carry outlet or commercial travellers, but of course it’s only partly true.

I don’t know if we have many commercial travellers in Ireland anymore and I think that the number of old-style newsagents is certainly dwindling with many small shops now having little option but join large supermarket chains.

The statistics prove that Irish motorists are certainly more interested in buying SUV’s, but next time you are in a shopping centre car park, have a look around and you will notice a few estates.

Estates certainly can be very useful and naturally the boot is massive, even before you leave down the back seat. You can get a lot of stuff in there, depending on what your line of business is.

But unfortunately no spare wheel as the space underneath is used for the electrics in the Hybrid version I drove.

Apart from newsagents and commercial travellers, Estates are also popular with people who like the country life, like shooting and fishing. There is probably not as much shooting and fishing in Ireland are you would have in Britain, but we definitely have people who enjoy that lifestyle and invariably they tend use estate cars.

Also, the middle seat in the back row folds down and you can carry long items safely, maybe a fishing rod or pole vault if that’s what you are into to.

I think that middle seat folding down idea was originally designed to transport skis, but we only have one ski slope in Ireland and that’s up in Kiltiernan, South Dublin.

Seat, like all other brands are moving with the times and my automatic test car was a 1.4-litre Hybrid. It came in a lovely Mystery Blue colour version which was very attractive.

Interior of the SEAT Leon.

There were no complaints about the external colour, but black was the dominant interior colour and it could have done with white roof lining.

The seats could also have done with a bit of red stitching to brighten up the interior. Like most modern cars the dash is dominated by a ten-inch screen and I found that using the slave controls on the steering wheel to be the safest method for the radio etc.

FR stand for Formula Racing so you in addition to space you will also get a plenty of extra power under the bonnet with 204 horses working away.

Prices for Sean Leon FR start at €34,585, which was fitted with a plethora of goodies. The only extra in the press car was Metallic Paint at €616, which brought the price of the car as tested to €35,201 and that included the SEAI grant. Road tax is €140.

For me Hybrid is the definitely the way to go until we populate the country with rapid charge points in every town, village and cross roads. Then we can go fully electric and save the environment.

I liked the space provided in the boot and used the car to transport a few large items. But I don’t think I will be opening a newsagents in a small town any time soon.

SEAT Leon bootspace. (Picture: Jordi Sans)