Back in November 2011, PetrolBlog was contacted by drummer Sam Jones who was looking for a new car. He wanted some advice and so we helpfully put together a list of ten potential cars that suited his ‘fun for £1,500’ criteria. At PetrolBlog, we’re the last people to blow our own trumpets, but we must say we were rather pleased with the shortlist.
Well clearly Sam prefers the sound of drums to trumpets, as he promptly ignored the advice and bought a SEAT Leon! Sensible chap.
Sam told me that although the SEAT Leon 1.8 20v T Sport didn’t appear on the list, as soon as he got behind the wheel of the car, he knew it was the car for him. In Sam’s words, “the 180bhp engine brought a smile to my face and I just couldn’t say no”.
Who can blame him? The VAG 1.8T unit is a highly tuneable and rather rapid engine. I know as much as I used to own a MK1 Skoda Octavia vRS and can vouch for Sam’s claims that many cars end up as mere speck in his rear view mirror when he puts his foot down. With a 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 142mph, the Leon represents a tremendous purchase for his £1,500 budget. There’s plenty of room for his drum set too.
Sam goes on to say that it handles very well too, although the recent wet weather has meant that he hasn’t pushed it too hard just yet. As soon as spring is here, Sam fully intends to make the most of his favourite local road, the A339 Alton to Basingstoke. But so far, Sam is happy to report that “the Leon is confidence inspiring and has a relatively good feel through the wheel, hindered only slightly by soft power steering. It can get a bit twitchy on a greasy roundabout but it’s not snatchy and you get gentle oversteer into understeer, which ends up as very tidy four wheel drift!”
The Leon’s sports suspension means that the ride around town is a little on the harsh side and Sam does his best to avoid the dreaded speed bumps. Sam claims that he can’t even straddle the half size ones they stick in the middle of the road as the front valance takes a hit – something the Leon didn’t enjoy discovering! Ouch!
But Sam’s biggest complaint is the Leon’s fuel consumption! The book claims a rather respectable 33mpg, although the reality is nearer to 25 – 27mpg. The latter is only achieved when Sam drives like his gran! Although, like most petrolheads, Sam is happy to report that the driving experience more than makes up for the cost of the fuel.
The final word has to go to Sam, who tries to draw a comparison with his beloved Peugeot 205XS; “It’s still no Pug 205XS. There’s too much safety and a tonne of mod cons on the Leon for it to feel like it’s you and the road. Having said that, I’m all for climate control and signs of an airbag instead of a squeaky fan blower and an embossed lion starring back at me!” Nice conclusion, Sam.
So there we have it. The first and last person to ask MajorGav for advice. Here’s a PetrolBlog top tip. If you’re looking for car buying advice, ask Sam.