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Leon 1.8TSI SC - Test Drive

Discussion in 'Leon Mk3 (2012-2020)' started by ZBOYD, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. ZBOYD

    ZBOYD Looking up at the stars!
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    I went over to my local dealer David Cook Motors in Oldham this morning, and got the chance to test drive the sales managers 1.8TSI Leon FR SC for an hour or so.

    I'd more of less made up my mind I was up for a new Leon SC FR, but as the opportunity arose, its rude not to have a drive when offered. [B)]

    I am personally interested in a DSG for the fact I suffer with poor joints in my feet, and now find a clutch tough work on my daily commutes to work. The car I tested today was 1.8TSI with 6 speed manual, however as its a Saturday, traffic wouldn't be so much of an issue today so bring it on. :funk:

    I drove a 1.6TDI SE DSG 5 door last weekend and I enjoyed that test drive and it gave me a feel for the car, the seating position and the way the gearbox performed. It was smooth comfortable, yet despite that it didn't really thrill me..nor was I expecting it to but it was just a first impression of the Mk3. Coming from a 360HP Mk2 Leon Cupra most things can feel pedestrian, so I have to be fair in my comparisons.

    The SC I tested today is Alor Blue, not my personal taste but its certainly very eye-catching. Sporting the 18" performance alloys it looks the part, very nice road stance to it. I like what SEAT have done with the styling, its angular and purposeful but not too harsh, softened by its A pillar line to the sloping coupe-esque roof and purposeful wider shoulders of the rear quarters its reminiscent of the VW Scirocco in its appearance which is no bad thing.

    Its a very nice looking car, it has that aesthetic edge over the 5door in that sense, I'd of missed the hidden door handles from the Mk2 if it was a 5 door only this time. But I'm pleased SEAT have diversified the range and given consumers more choice. A 5 door wasn't essential for me, but its good for the brand that there is a greater choice available and the upcoming ST is sure to be popular too.

    I was shown a few of the tech pack functions before I headed off and how they worked, and the extra options that this particular car had fitted. It had the tech pack of course, led headlamps, convenience, sound pack, driver assist, alcantara sport trim. So not a bad little list of options for me to check out.

    The interior is a big improvement over the Mk2 Leon, the only cheapened parts in my opinion are probably the door cards and the lower parts of the dashboard. But certainly nothing I'd class as being terrible. The rest of the interior, dashboard, switchgear etc has a tougher and more refined appeal to it similar to its cousins in VW or Audi.

    The seating position on the SC feels just a little different to the 5door SE that I drove, a bit more laid back, a sportier seating position, but all for the better. The Alcantara trim and leatherette looks great, and the seats are strong and firm, yet comfortable and hold you in position well.

    The obvious drawback of the 3door is losing the convenience of the rear doors, but I don't often have rear passengers anyway and if thats a necessity you would choose a 5 door. The rear legroom is of course economic in a sport-coupe, but they are certainly not tight for space, 4 adults I think would be the SC's comfortable limit with adequate headroom for all except the tallest of passengers.

    The overall visibility is good, including through the rear hatch and a more conventional A pillar design and less rakish front windscreen means SEAT have instantly improved all round vision from the previous Leon model. But the new car is fitted with all round parking sensors too, so moving it around in tight spaces is effortless.

    So fire up the SC and off we go, I went into the driver profiles and selected Normal first, because I wanted an idea of where it was as a bench mark. Quick blast down the road, and I'm already smiling, its got a great engine sound in the cabin (albeit manufactured) which was delivering a great sound with the satisfying surge of power.

    However with the window open, in reality its got a nice little engine sound to it with a sporty exhaust note. It does start to sound a little strained towards the limiter, but its got plenty of mid range torque as you would expect from a VW Group turbo engine, so that your unlikely to find your pushing it that hard on a regular basis.

    Despite it being considerably less powerful than the car I've owned before, its no slouch, the new 1.8 performs very well delivering its 178hp to the road. As I've touched on above, the torque delivery is consistently strong across a wide area of the rev band, making it quick off the mark and quick to pick up the pace from in-gear acceleration.

    I can see the DSG performing even better for me, as my manual changes are woefully slow anyway with my achey joints. But the manual gearbox is perfectly adequate for most people, and unless DSG is really a requirement you'd save money sticking with the 6 speed box.

    Taking the car on the motorway was an opportunity to try out the lane assist function (driver assist pack), it simply uses the camera/sensor as part of the convenience pack (another requirement) to look at the lane lines. It sets itself momentarily once you have got into the lane and straightened up. If you drift (without indicating) the steering wheel gently vibrates to prompt you back into the centre of the lane. It works ok, but could be distracting if the lanes are narrow as can be on some sections of the highways, but it can be turned off.

    The headlight assist function I was unable to test today, but have been told it works very well, and as the nights start to draw in, I've been invited to come back and do a bit of night driving one evening to see the LED headlamps in action and test the assist functions.

    The ride was good on the motorway, the cabin is quiet and the engine is refined to make cruising along relaxing, and it soon picks up the pace when the loud pedal is pressed.

    I got back off the motorway and took the car around town and off onto some quiet lanes, to test it out on the twists and turns.

    The car is just under 100kg lighter than the Mk2 and a bit wider with it, and that diet makes it feel more nimble and being shorter than both the Mk2 and Mk3 5door the car is really well balanced and gives you the confidence to throw it about a bit into the corners like a much smaller hatchback, which it attacks and soaks up effortlessly.

    The 1.8TSI is multi-link at the back, I'm not 100% sure if the 1.6TDI i drove was rear beam (i think it was) but you can tell something more substantial was tying together the back end on the SC. It obviously sits lower to the road than the SE did, and despite the 18 inch optional wheels it never felt harsh or overly stiff and I purposely took it down some back roads with Everest height speed humps to bounce it over and it soaked these up well enough.

    My Mk2 Cupra ran on coil overs that were astounding on a nice smooth bit of tarmac, and even with its std Cupra shocks and springs it was always a tough ride on the potholes and sleeping policemen. I'd expect to save on visits to the chiropractor with a new FR. :)

    At this stage I thought I'd have a play with the profiles, and switched the car into sport and the door cards light up red. Driving the 6spd manual it doesn't do a great deal to the performance really, at a pinch it picks up the pace a bit quicker than normal with a keener throttle response and the manufactured engine note sounded more distinctive, but nothing I could really notice in the short time I drove the car. I think in general most people will stick in Sport and leave it there.

    With a manual gearbox it only suggests different change points to the driver, rather than conditioning any change to the box. In a DSG it changes the parameters of the gearbox to suit the mode. In sport mode the steering is firmed up and this gives good feedback when pushing on through the corners.

    Other modes are ECO (self explanatory) and Individual (which allows a mixture of mode settings to be applied). I wasn't doing much in the way of Economical driving today, so I can't comment on the effectiveness of ECO mode, but the settings alter the way air-conditioning draws on the engine too, so it appears there will be fuel savings to notice, and with DSG it activates an inertia function enabling consumption to be further reduced.

    Even with sporty driving though the car remained economical, Mid 50's mpg on the motorway and high 30's around town, only dipping into the teens under hard driving.

    The tech pack and media system is a gadget geeks dream however, and though I'm sure the novelty will wear off in time, you'll find yourself exploring all the options and settings on the touch screen interface. The in-dash display is full colour too, and can display optional information independent of the main screen, so for example Navigation can be linked to the main screen and radio/music/media info to the dash, or visa versa. Its a nice clear interface with a striking design, and very easy to use.

    The car I tested has the optional SEAT Sound Pack fitted, that increases the already generous FR standard 8 speaker sound system to 9 speakers and 1 subwoofer. The extra speaker is a centre speaker factory fitted inside the middle of the dashboard, the subwoofer is mounted inside the space saver rear tyre (which as an option must be ticked alongside the sound system). A 6 channel amplifier then boosts the overall system to 135 watts.

    So to test it out I sync'd up my iPhone over bluetooth, and played some of my favourite tunes, including some of The Prodigy's classics. :)

    It provides deep rich clear sound, the subwoofer is effective too, I could feel the hair on the back of my head being moved by the sound waves. The functions on the media system, allow fine tuning of the system, including a full equaliser. I had a top of the range Pioneer nav system in my Cupra, but the tech pack media system with the SEAT Sound system was every bit a match for it in terms of the quality of sound it reproduced.

    With practically every conceivable modern music media platform taken care of by the in glovebox EASY CONNECT system, you'll never be short on entertainment.

    So with that I headed back to the dealership.

    Summing up, I think the FR TSI is a fun, stylish and refined sporty hatchback that though it won't deliver the outright performance of the Cupra, that is sure to succeed it within the next 12 months it is a very capable, fast, yet economic and affordable alternative.

    Do I like it, well considering I've placed an order for one today, I think its succeeded in winning me over.

    I look forward to its arrival, and getting to grips with the car mated to the DSG box.

    Thanks to Gary at David Cook Motors for the test drive. :) If your local or even if your not, pay them a visit, they are a good dedicated crowd down there and a family run business which is getting rare to find these days.
     
    #1 ZBOYD, Sep 7, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  2. Syphon

    Syphon SCN Admin
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    Good write up mate. :)

    Roll on delivery ;)

    Scott
     
  3. DeanC

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    Great write up, thank you. 6 weeks to go for me :)

    Two questions - 1) when you say manufactured sound is the 1.8 not the same as the 184 tdi in it having a physical actuator in the exhaust for sport mode?

    You can hear it being switched on and off here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6bl-oRfY8w&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    2) The lane assist on my demo car physically corrected the car. It worked much better and was far less intrusive than I thought it would be.
     
    #3 DeanC, Sep 8, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  4. CyberGene

    CyberGene Active Member

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    Nice review! Six weeks to go for me too for a SC FR 1.8 TSI manual. Are you sure the TDI has a physical sound actuator? I thought both relied on prerecorded sound from the speakers. Also that sound should be applied only in sport mode and not in normal.
     
  5. DeanC

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    Yep, 100%. It says in the brochure and the dealer confirmed. I can't remember if it said 184 tdi and 1.8 tsi under the asterisk though. I'm pretty sure it did, they both get the better suspension, bigger brakes etc. Then only the 184 has the uprated roll bars.

    Nothing come out of the speakers of my demo car in any mode.
     
  6. AndrewJB

    AndrewJB Friend to SEAT UK & Cupra Racing

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    1.6 is rear beam

    Right now i would say the 1.8TSI DSG is the car to have, Shame they don't do the 2.0TDI 184PS in DSG

    Ive driven both Manual and DSG of the 1.8TSI and loved the DSG even compared to my Stage2+ LCR
     
    #6 AndrewJB, Sep 8, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  7. ZBOYD

    ZBOYD Looking up at the stars!
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    I don't think I could hear much of a difference in engine note between either mode if I'm truly honest, it may of had a bit more sound in sport, but it was minimal and may have been conditional on the way I was driving at the time. Having the car for an hour I probably hadn't enough opportunity to notice a change. It could well be that a physical change takes place in the exhaust, and that isn't as noticeable inside the cabin. I noticed with the window down that it had a fruity little burble to it, so this could well be the case.

    I've not driven or heard a 184 TDI as yet to make any kind of comparison to the 1.8TSI

    I was under the impression that the sound for the engine came from a separate audio speaker from behind the dashboard rather than from the audio speakers themselves. This was what was explained to me when the Ibiza started using this device. However I maybe wrong?

    There are several videos on YouTube of 1.8TSI's in cockpit looking at acceleration runs etc. The sound the smart phones is picking up seems quite clear to me as if the source is more internal.

    However it doesn't take anything away from the fact it's a cracking value sporty hatchback. Looking forward to its arrival, and I'll do a follow up report. I can class this is a First Drive report. :)
     
    #7 ZBOYD, Sep 8, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  8. DeanC

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    The old leon did that. Thats why not all 5F FRs have sport sound as part of the sport mode - it's engine specific. The TDI defo has the exhaust valve off of the mk7 GTD and id be surprised if they engineered an electronic sound system for one model.
     
  9. ZBOYD

    ZBOYD Looking up at the stars!
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    I don't think there is a clear indication of what's got what really. Im using my past experience as a gauge and maybe I am expecting the car to be sound processed when maybe it isn't. (Sounds good regardless) I'll have a chat with SEAT and see what they can confirm in that regard.

    I'll have to check out the TDI when I get the opportunity for comparison.

    But based on my low mileage and daily commute my own preference is towards the petrol. If I was doing regular motorway mileage it would be a diesel, though as I need DSG I would be limited to the 150 TDI I believe. No option for DSG with the 184.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk - now Free
     
    #9 ZBOYD, Sep 8, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  10. DeanC

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    It's certainly not clear mate. I would have gone for a DSG but it had to be diesel for CC tax and I thought the 150 was a bit weak. 1.8 tsi is a great lump.
     
  11. ZBOYD

    ZBOYD Looking up at the stars!
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    Found this quote regarding the profiles on the Leon SC this evening while reading the original media pack.

    Still doesn't explain whether this actuator is a mechanical part or an electronic sound generator. Though my thoughts are its an artificially generated engine note. I'll see what SEAT say.
     
    #11 ZBOYD, Sep 8, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  12. DeanC

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    This is the GTD actuator. Does not help in knowing what we get mind.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. DeanC

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    Nobody stuck their head under the back of their 184 tdi or 1.8 tsi yet to see if it has a backbox?
     
  14. ZBOYD

    ZBOYD Looking up at the stars!
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    Not got mine yet, so can't look. :)

    Spoke with SEAT UK who confirmed to me that the 1.8TSI at least does have a sound actuator, which is the speaker based system, but if i understand correctly how this is implemented I believe this an independent source from the the cars audio system. So it won't be piped through the audio speakers.
     
  15. AndrewJB

    AndrewJB Friend to SEAT UK & Cupra Racing

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    Same as in the Facelift MK2 Cupra/Cupra R
     
  16. ZBOYD

    ZBOYD Looking up at the stars!
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    Yup
     
  17. Shiners

    Shiners Active Member

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    The 184 TDI has a back box on the 5d version so I guess the SC would be the same?
     
  18. CyberGene

    CyberGene Active Member

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    There are two types of sound actuators VW uses:

    - The one shown above by DeanC where the sound actuator is situated in the exhaust pipes
    - One situated in the engine bay, just below the windshield which creates vibrations in body of the car and more specifically in the windshield:
    [​IMG]

    I believe the Leon uses the second type, so you should search for something like this:
    [​IMG]

    You may want to check out following threads where I got the above pictures from. There's a lot of interesting stuff:

    http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?5642296-GLI-Sound-Actuator

    http://www.vwaudiforum.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?149407-golf-mk7-gtd-sound-actuator
     
  19. DeanC

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    I reckon. First time SEAT buyer and the list of stuff which the dealer has got wrong, things that have been dropped from the advertised spec, the wait and the level of 'tightarsedness' grows :-(
     
  20. AndyG_TSi

    AndyG_TSi Active Member

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    Nice write up ZBOYD

    David Cooks is my local dealer too mate. Can't speak highly enough of them, as you say, its a family owned business and they are always friendly and helpful, give excellent service.

    One of the better SEAT main dealers :)
     

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