My long term Leon ST Ecomotive has been away having its bonnet repaired after some kind soul scratched it last month.
In its place I have had the opportunity to test the sportier Leon ST FR 1.4 TSI ACT 150 PS. In many ways the cars look very similar, the most obvious styling differences being the FR’s bigger wheels, sports seats and thicker, flat bottomed steering wheel.
Small changes - but they do add up to a much sportier feel over the more subtle ecomotive. The other, bigger difference is the engine.
It’s a long while since I’ve driven a petrol engined car, and I hadn’t expected the difference to feel so apparent given the recent advances in diesel engine technology.
The FR feels fast, with 150hp, sports seats that really hold you in place and an engine note which encourages you to push it harder than perhaps you would in the diesel. It is an altogether more rewarding experience for the driver and certainly made it clear that this is a sportier model in looks and performance that the more subtle Ecomotive.
However this excitement comes at the cost of the fuel economy. During my week long stint I averaged high 30s and low 40s to the gallon and although I was reluctant to give back the FR, being back in the slightly more sedate but more wallet friendly (averaging 60+ mpg) Ecomotive was a welcome return.