Trapezoidal. It’s not a word I’ve come across much in my scribbling career but it seems to have entered my vocabulary with increasing regularity in recent times. The strict definition is something “quadrilateral having two parallel sides of unequal length”. Still with me? No? Well take a look at the lighting on the new Leon from Seat and there it is.
In fact look at the car all over and you’ll see examples of trapezoidal design everywhere. It’s the current buzz word in car design where we’ve moved on from curved, silky smooth lines to something which is more angular, sharp and to the point.
Seat have another word for their latest philosophy, which will be rolled out across the range, but which is being led now in their hugely important family hatchback, the Leon. It sounds like marketing-speak but in spite of that it’s quite clever. “Enjoyneering” is what they call this blend of Spanish design and German engineering, so that you’ve got the best of both European cultures.
The car is built on the same shared Volkswagen Group platform as the VW Golf, the Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia which serves to cut production costs by having a common base but allows for individual body styling on top. It’s the third version to come with the Leon name since it first appeared at the end of the Nineties and it goes back to the original Seat image of sportiness and youthfulness which has faded a little in recent years as fellow family members, VW, Audi and Skoda all got their act together and are clear on their individual images of practicality, desirability and price sensitivity.
The Leon is built at the Martorell facility in Spain where 800 million euros have been spent on the production line to create a car which the company claims sets new standards of build quality. Certainly the car feels well screwed together, with a satisfying clunk as you shut the doors, a good finish to the interior fittings and a confident performance on the open road.
The new car is 90 kgs lighter than the model it replaces, which helps achieve excellent economy and, combined with a sub-100 g/km CO2 level, means it’s also a lot easier on the pocket. There are three trim levels, starting with the entry-level S which has a huge range of standard equipment including halogen daytime running lights, five-inch colour touchscreen, Bluetooth and steering wheel mounted audio and phone controls. SE adds extra interior lighting and leather finishes inside, larger 16-inch alloys, front cornering fog lights and cruise control, while the sporty FR completes the package with lowered, stiffer suspension and things like dark tinted rear windows, LED tail lights and 17-inch alloys.
It also comes with Drive Profile which allows Sport, Comfort or Eco settings to alter the engine, gearbox and steering as well as the interior ambient lighting from white to a livelier red.
There’s also a whole catalogue of options including Lane and Light Assist, Tiredness Recognition, and Multi-Collision Brake, which brings the car to a halt automatically if it’s involved in an accident.
The test car may have been at the basic S Level but I didn’t feel wanting for anything and the 103bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine was flexible and capable. It came with £1,380 of great value extras such as only £395 for cruise control and rear parking sensors which would cost considerably more in some of the competitors including Ford’s Focus, Vauxhall’s Astra or Honda’s Civic.
Seat has been enjoying a revival, selling more cars every year in recent times, and the UK is now its biggest export country. Last year they achieved a record share of the market, with almost 40,000 cars taking to UK roads. With the new Leon leading the way, they are likely to be “enjoyneering” flying sales with their trapezoidal quadrilateral styling. Or to put it another way – it’s set to be a big hit.
CAR Seat Leon S 1.6 TDI CR 105PS
PRICE £17,370 (£18,750 as tested)
PERFORMANCE Top speed 119 mph; 0-62 mph 10.7 secs
MPG (combined) 74.3mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS 99g/km