GONE are the days when diesel powered cars had a reputation of being frugal and boring - for that has all changed thanks to manufacturers like Seat from sunny Spain who have injected some Spanish sparkle into their oil burners and made them fast and sexy, writes Bryan Longworth.
I remember the first diesel engined car I tested many years ago which was noisy and sluggish sounding like a tractor and it blew clouds of dark exhaust fumes through the rear tailpipe. This was the norm in those distant days but fortunately things have changed for the better and the Seat Leon I have just been testing is a perfect example of how diesel power can now mean fast and exciting as well as being frugal on fuel.
It was the Leon FR+ 2.0 TDI CR DSG which is the latest model in the popular FR range that costs £22,955 which is quite a bit cheaper than the equivalent car from VW who are also part of the same manufacturing group.
The test car had a real sporty feel as soon as I started driving it and the steering was the best I have encountered on a Seat being really precise and positive which helped to make my test period so enjoyable.
Statistics for this car indicate its sporty character with a top speed of 133mph, a zero to 62mph time of 8 seconds and yet it averaged around 44mpg which I considered extremely good.
It had the optional DSG six speed automatic gearbox which is generally regarded as being the best in the business that provided smooth and positive changes with paddles on the steering wheel for owners who like to do a bit of DIY gear changing.
The car was absolutely loaded with standard kit that included bi-xenon headlights, touch screen satellite navigation, front and rear parking sensors and rain sensing windscreen wipers plus lots more.
There is a reasonably sized boot but the rear seat folds to create much more load space.
The satellite navigation system is one of the best around apart from the speed limit indicators which were frequently inaccurate and drivers not paying attention to road side speed signs could have speeding ticket problems.
Otherwise I really enjoyed my time with this Leon which as far as I am concerned is one of the best cars to come from the Spanish manufacturer.
My Verdict: A Spanish sparkler.