Pursuit of better emissions has compromised the overall package

What is it?

Seat's eco flagship has had some substantial changes under the bonnet.

Gone is the 1.9 TDI unit; in its place is VW Group’s 1.6 TDI, complete with 99g/km CO2 emissions, a 20g/km improvement over the old model. That means you won’t have to pay for a tax disc.

But there are other changes that help the Leon drop below 100g/km. All the usual eco boxes are ticked here, including stop-start and aerodynamic tweaks to help keep fuel bills down.

See test pics of the Seat Leon Ecomotive

What's it like?

However, these tweaks have taken some of the sparkle off the Leon’s solid, if not spectacular, package.

The Leon’s Golf roots are evident in the way it drives – it’s competent, without ever really raising a smile. But whereas the Ecomotive’s sister car, the Golf Bluemotion, offers the same economy benefits, it does so without compromise. That isn’t the case here.

Despite a healthy 184lb ft of torque at 1500rpm, the Ecomotive feels gutless once you’re moving and accelerating through the gears. Taller ratios sap power and you often have to drop back down to first in traffic or town to prevent kangarooing.

Claimed economy is 74.3mpg, but on our test route, the Leon managed just over 50mpg. Economy is undoubtedly harmed by the need for a hard push on the accelerator to help keep up with traffic. The figure we achieved is still respectable, but disappointing, given Seat’s claims.

What can’t be criticised is the Ecomotive’s cost. You get a lot of car for your money: the Leon is spacious, well equipped and comfortable.

Should I buy one?

This Ecomotive version is cheap to run and to buy. But our advice is to save a few hundred pounds and go for a standard 1.6 TDI or 1.4 TSI instead.

Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 105 S

Price: £16,840; Top speed: 118mph; 0-62mph: 11.5sec; Economy: 74.3mpg (combined); CO2: 99g/km; Engine: 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power: 104bhp; Torque: 184lb ft; Gearbox: 5-spd manual

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, autocar.co.uk website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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FM8 14 January 2019



paulmt123 1 September 2012


Think they may take a while to loosen up before they come good. The 1.6 diesel leon tdi I initially test drove was brand new and felt somewhat sluggish but mine has 30000 miles on it and revvs freely to the red line. I had a 2.0tdi 140 sport before and its nowhere near that in terms of outright performance but it will happily accelerate smoothly through the gears. You get the power immediately and continuously rather than nothing for 2 seconds and then a massive shove (2.0TDI PD). Overtaking is fairly easy and the long 1st means you can leave cars behind to 30 as you don't need 2nd so soon.  Takes some getting used to gears. 3rd is like 4th and 4th is like 5th. 5th is like 6th in most 6 speeders. Mine is also very smooth and quiet right from cold. In truth feels more like a petrol in how it delivers the power apart from better low down torque. There is some boom at 1000-1500rpm up a hill but otherwise very civilised. Mine will also sit at 1200rpm and above with power in reserve. Yes for some reason it doesn't like <1200rpm in 2nd (fine in all other gears). Reason for the leon is driving fun. Its very agile, all controls are nicely weighted and leaves everyone behind in the bends. Its fun to push it round a corner and watch a tale gating yob fall behind! For a family hatch its very accomplished. Some say not as good as a focus though . Had the previous focus and mark 1 and this handles a lot better than 2nd generation car, feeling more agile. Leon is also more stylish than golf, and sportier at the expense of comfort and quality. 

rodenal 3 September 2010

Re: Seat Leon Ecomotive

Having driven both id just like to say, in my opinion at least that is nonsense