Automobiles

Our Cars: SEAT Leon - Saying goodbye is always hard

We've been a bit quiet on the Leon front for a while, but the car has been very busy indeed... And now it's gone home. Here's what it's been up to.

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As we've said before, being an XCAR crew car is no easy gig. The miles are long, the gear you're given to carry is often heavy and pointy, you're often used as a trash can and you're not cleaned very often. Essentially you're a glorified pack mule.

As such, I always felt a bit bad for our Leon. Y'see, it's a bloody good car. Based on the VW Group's MQB platform, its 2.0-litre diesel engine offered hothatch pace and decent economy. We regularly saw 45+mpg out of it. Impressive stuff.

When it wasn't being used to lug kit or store empty tins of Monster Energy drink (Drew's tipple of choice for a 5am start) I used it to drive to various appointments/meetings all over the country. You know what? It was wonderful. Not only is it quiet compared to most things (more on that later), but I didn't have to pay all that much to go over 500 miles. Oh, and it's bloody good fun if you find yourself on some twisty stuff. Bonus!

Having the Leon also served another purpose - it was a brilliant 'control' car. I've been hopping in and out of a vast number of cars over the last year. Astons, Ferraris, VWs, Audis, etc, etc and jumping in to the SEAT at the end of the week was a great leveller - its handling, decent pace and general comfort were good benchmarks to have all round.

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It also showed me how noisy cars are compared to 'the future'. In early January we filmed the BMW i3 - a small, electric slice of futuristic loveliness. But after chuntering around London at silly AM in the whisper quiet i3, jumping back in to the Leon was something of a shock. Its diesel engine really rumbled. Good thing it was an inoffensive one, eh?

The Leon is our no more, it's gone back to SEAT and will shortly find its way to a new owner. An owner who won't fill it with old energy drink tins and vast quantities of oddly shaped camera gear, probably.

One more thing - even after a year with us, seeing it practically every day and driving thousands of miles in it, it still think it looks good. Modern hatchbacks tend to merge in to an egg-shaped mess nowadays. They're all designed for economy, etc, which means you can't really play with the looks. SEAT, however, managed it. The distinctive DRLs are a highlight, as are the pointy door mirrors.

I'm genuinely gutted it's leaving us. I'll miss the old girl.

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