‘Corazon’.  It’s the Spanish word for heart – and after a week behind the wheel of SEAT’s Leon 1.5 eTSI EVO FR Sport I think it sums up the character of this highly-capable, fun-to-drive, five-door family hatchback.

Since its introduction in 1999, the Leon has been one of the key pillars of the SEAT brand, achieving record sales numbers, introducing new technologies and bringing new levels of dynamism and design to an incredibly competitive segment. 

Every generation has been designed, developed and produced in Barcelona at the marque’s Martorell facilities. The car was named after the Spanish city, Leon, a tradition of the brand, with some of the other models so named being Ronda, Ibiza, Malaga, Marbella, and Toledo.

In July 2019, Leon Mk3 passed the one million sales landmark, cementing its place as SEAT’s most successful vehicle.

Asian Image: SEAT’s Leon 1.5 eTSI EVO FR SportSEAT’s Leon 1.5 eTSI EVO FR Sport (Image: SEAT’s Leon 1.5 eTSI EVO FR Sport)

Style file
The car is definitely a looker, with an exterior design that exudes confidence, elegance and sportiness. With kerb appeal aplenty, the car’s lines are dynamic and purposeful with looks enhanced by the ‘coast-to-coast’ LED light, which runs the width of the rear, part of a sculpted boot designed to maintain the dynamic personality of the vehicle. Our FR Sport model had sports bumpers and 18in machine alloy wheels.

Inside, the key words are functionality, minimalism and sleekness from the moment the driver slips behind the wheel. The smooth-surfaced, slim yet wide dashboard gives the appearance of lightness and appears to float. The effect is created with the help of the decorative mouldings that surround the dashboard and continue through into the front doors. 

The cabin has been ergonomically designed to increase comfort, with everything within decluttered, reducing the number of physical buttons to a minimum, with a focus on the main infotainment screen, which includes gesture recognition, providing all key interaction and commands from the occupants.

At the heart of the Leon’s interior is a ‘digital cockpit’, which brings together a high-resolution 10.25-inch configurable driver instrument cluster and 10-inch infotainment system. 

Interior light is an important feature. It includes a wraparound dashboard light that covers its entire width and continues through the doors. It’s not only an ambient decorative light, but it also provides a number of key functions such as blind-spot detection.

The cabin has pleasantly tactile surfaces with refined soft-touch plastics, textiles, and microsuede upholstery.

Asian Image: SEAT’s Leon 1.5 eTSI EVO FR SportSEAT’s Leon 1.5 eTSI EVO FR Sport (Image: SEAT’s Leon 1.5 eTSI EVO FR Sport)

The Leon FR has a wealth of features, including power-folding heated door mirrors, LED headlights with dynamic indicators, LED front fog lamps with cornering function, rain-sensing wipers, heated windscreen washers, separate daytime running lights with automatic headlight control and ‘coming home’ feature, heated front seats, leather-trimmed heated steering wheel, power-adjustable driving seat, three-zone climate control, connectivity suite, park-assist with front and rear parking sensors, cruise control with speed limiter and a wireless phone charger.

On the safety front, features include forward collision warning, a lane-keeping system and technology that allows the car to ‘see’ more of its surroundings and react to obstacles on the road or sudden movements by other drivers thanks to the integration of a suite of updated and completely new advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). 

Practicality? Boot space is 380 litres with the rear seat back in place and 617 litres with it folded down. There are four USB sockets – two in the front and two in the rear.

Asian Image: SEAT’s Leon 1.5 eTSI EVO FR SportSEAT’s Leon 1.5 eTSI EVO FR Sport (Image: SEAT’s Leon 1.5 eTSI EVO FR Sport)

On the road
The car lives up to its ‘FR Sport’ designation with plenty of smooth power from the 147bhp, 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, mated to a slick seven-speed automatic (DSG) transmission. Handling is responsive and the car delivers a confidence-inspiring driving experience. Ride is comfortable and the Leon feels roomy. Performance figures are 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 135mph, with fuel consumption of 44.8-48.7mpg and a CO2 figure of 131g/km (all manufacturer’s figures).

Tech time
The Leon features Car2X connectivity – a cloud-based technology that enables drivers to receive advanced warning on the status of upcoming traffic lights or an incident on a motorway further up the road, with traffic information appearing in real time on screen.

The Leon EVO FR Sport is a winning mix of driving pleasure (remember the corazon?), family-hatchback practicality, great features and appealing design.

Price: £31,855 OTR inc options