Seat Leon Ecomotive Review
2014 is turning out to be an immense year for motoring. So far, we have been inundated with a raft of new top end models from the exotic manufacturers with Porsche’s 918, Mclaren’s P1, Ferrari’s LaFerrari and Jaguar’s scintillating F Type R Coupé filling all the motoring publications this year. One release that may well have slipped below your radar in amongst all this headline grabbing rarity is the new Seat Leon Ecomotive. This car is the very antithesis of all the stratospheric priced, technology laden hypercars that have the whole world salivating. This is exactly why we find it such an intriguing prospect and why fleet buyers should sit up and pay attention to it.
Firstly, we are massive fans of the standard Leon. We had an FR spec 150ps TDi variant here for a number of weeks and all who drove it raved about the build quality, specification and sheer value for money when compared to the Golf on which it is based. So the Ecomotive starts off with a big plus in its favour, but also has a lot to live up to.
From the outside, it is business as usual with the aggressive lines of the Leon still as refreshing as when the car was first launched in 2012. Inside, the cabin lacks the sporting touches and trim niceties that the Leon FR comes with as standard but still feels on a par with other models in the Volkswagen Group range. The Ecomotive upgrades include 15mm lower suspension, 90kg lower kerb weight whilst boasting longer gear ratios on the 6 speed ‘box, eco-friendly low resistance tyres and other aerodynamic improvements aimed at better fuel economy and reduced CO2 levels. This equates to a claimed fuel economy of 85.6mpg and emissions of 87g/km which are sufficiently impressive for a model in this sector.
On the move, it becomes apparent that not all of the upgrades have had an entirely positive effect on the standard car. The 1.6TDi engine needs to be worked when pulling away as the longer gears mean that it is all too easy to bog down or even stall when moving of. Once in motion, the car performs adequately but feels more blunt than the standard 1.6TDi. It handles well with corners taken in a confidence inspiring manner and a well judged chassis setup meaning that ride comfort is adequate if slightly harder due to the lowered suspension. But the comparison to the standard 1.6TDi is where the Ecomotive really stops making much sense at all. Real world mpg seemed on a par with the standard car whilst the gearing on the non-Ecomotive variant certainly makes driving a happier experience. The ride and handling on the standard car are altogether more accomplished as well.
With all this weighed up, it seems incredibly difficult to recommend the Ecomotive over the standard 1.6TDi and, with the 2.0TDi offering more power with only a marginal effect on CO2, Seat find themselves in an awkward position where the “green” model of their range makes little to no real world sense. So, yes, we still love the Seat Leon and you should certainly consider one for your next company car with it featuring near the very top of your shopping list, just not this Ecomotive model. Our pick of the range comfortably remains as the 2.0TDi FR 150ps.