We have found this over the last six months with our SEAT Leon Cupra which has ended its stay with us. Basically it's SEAT's version of the Volkswagen Group lower-medium car, adding a 180bhp turbocharged 1.8-litre engine and some important equipment as standard all for an asking price of £15,500 (it was in fact £15,000 when it was delivered to us in February).
Over the five months since I wrote the first long-term piece on the car various testers have been won over by its combination of performance, comfort and value-for money. Although it has more than you would expect in a £15,000 car, spending time with it you eventually discover where a few corners have been cut.
However, the cost savings have been done in areas where it probably doesn't affect the enjoyment of the car. The Leon comes with digital automatic climate control. Unlike many other cars with this feature, you cannot set different temperatures for driver and passenger. Does it matter? No.
There is a six-CD autochanger. It is in the glove compartment meaning it takes up some storage space, but uses less wiring than if it had been stuck in the boot. It probably saves a few more pounds per car.
There is a trip computer that calculates the average mpg, instantaneous mpg, average speed, fuel range and time spent driving. This is a feature on so many cars throughout the VW Group that it probably doesn't cost much to include on this particular car, and there are so many other features that are common to so many cars across the VW-owned brands that costs are pared down.
Over the last 9,000 miles we had a relatively trouble-free run. An early windscreen washer problem was fixed within a couple of minutes by our local dealer, and SEAT UK replaced the CD autochanger when we reported problems, but the car remained mechanically sound and the interior has stood up to the demands of regular use.
And we will miss the performance. Although the engine note was rather anonymous, the exhaust provided a cheeky burble at low speeds and the Leon was an accomplished sprinter as well as a good long-haul companion with its sixth gear allowing comfortable motorway travel.
Few company cars can provide the all-round abilities of the Leon Cupra 20VT at this price, and it could be a high-performance bargain for the user chooser.
Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% tax-payer) £67 per month