Tuesday 29th September 2020
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SEAT Leon FR. Image by Max Earey.

Long term test: 2013 SEAT Leon FR
Max Earey, our overworked and underpaid (so he says) photographer, has somehow convinced SEAT to let him have a spanking new Leon FR for 'a while'. He's going with the 'a picture is worth a thousand words' approach...


 



Image by Max Earey.

  January 20 - 24
Cirencester and the Mitsubishi Heritage Fleet this week: an Evo IV with only 53 miles on the clock and a very low mileage Tommi Makinen were the highlights plus a Mitsubishi Willis Jeep and Starion closely following in the 'cool' stakes.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  January 17
Straight back to North Wales. The Toledo does well, I feel fresh after the early start, putting most of that down to the support of the seats and comfortable driving position. Whilst I probably wouldn't buy a Toledo it does do everything it needs to without any fuss. Today I'm shooting black and white. I've a beastly looking Aston Martin Vantage V12 S and No. 1 AM Racing Driver Darren Turner doing the steering.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  January 6 - 16
Flying out to Ireland again and a good mixture of stock images to shoot including a few Mazdas, SEATs and the new Golf GTI. Not the greatest weather and all-in-all a tough 10 days. Hoping for better weather next time!
 

Image by Max Earey.

  December 27 - 31
I've eaten and drunk far too much so it's back to work for me - the first of two SEAT Leon STs. I love the look of this new estate and hope to have one myself early in March. First up is the FR 1.8 TSI with 180hp and a seven-speed DSG gearbox, followed by the 1.4 TSI version with a manual gearbox. Space, great looks and ride: another all-round winner from SEAT.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  December 13 - 26
Time to relax for the Christmas and New Year festivities, other than shooting the SEATs I have arriving for the holidays. First to come is a Leon FR with a special aerodynamic kit. It has a slightly more aggressive stance compared to the stock FR; I like the wheels and I nip off up to Snowdonia to play on the quiet roads around the mountains.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  December 11 - 12
The first long journey in the SEAT Toledo, I'm off up to Crewe to the Bentley factory and a group of Russian journalists. The Toledo is the 1.6 TDI Ecomotive edition. Inside it's adequate enough with satnav, DAB radio and Bluetooth while the seats are firm, supportive and, importantly, comfortable. The engine, whilst slightly noisy at tick over, runs smoothly and the car cruises very well on the motorway whilst returning a solid 62mpg. In reality it's not the same as the Leon FR and no one wanting an FR would buy the Toledo or vice versa. However, for the money, its family and load carrying abilities are impressive!
 

Image by Max Earey.

  December 6
My replacement car from SEAT is the Toledo, hugely different from the FR, not as sexy and not as well equipped. It is much cheaper though, bigger inside and has a huge boot.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  December 5
It's a very sad goodbye to my SEAT Leon FR today. It's been a great six months behind the wheel, shortened by my ruptured tendon and the volume of overseas work, but I still managed 15,000 miles and every one of them was trouble free, comfortable and reasonably economical, but more than anything they were fun - this car is fantastic and I'd have another tomorrow. If I was buying it would indeed be one of these over everything else in the sector.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  December 2 - 4
Ferrari bound today and picking up the magnificent 458 Spider for a blast and shoot on the stunning roads of Snowdonia.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  November 24 - 28
Getting toward the end of the year now and a last trip over to Ireland to shoot some stock pics for BMW and others; it's cold but not too damp, which is always a bonus.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  November 18
Back to the rain and the cold of the UK and it's the world premiere of the new MINI, a hectic day as I have to shoot and process the images so they are available for the lifting of the embargo at 3pm.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  November 10 - 16
The guest drivers have arrived and the tour begins: we aim to take in the delights of Dubai, the beautiful coast of Oman and end our journey at the Yas Marina Circuit where everyone will have the opportunity to unleash and experience some true Veyron power!
 

Image by Max Earey.

  November 8 - 9
Time to leave the city and head into the desert to shoot some stock imagery of the cars and the surrounding landscape. I'm here with five Veyrons, which I have to say is a spectacular scene and experience.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  November 7
Touching down in Dubai with the sun shining is always a spectacular vision; the cityscape stands proud from the desert floor and glistens in the morning light. Bugatti staff pick me up and it's off to the first of many stunning hotels on the tour of Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai itself.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  November 2 - 6
A chance to do some catching up, a shoot on an Audi RS 4 Avant and packing for Bugatti's Tour of the Middle East. It's going to be quite hectic again. Needless to say after a month of standing idle the FR crackled into life straight away and once again a smile was on my face behind the wheel. Sadly though my time with the FR is coming to an end soon after I get back from the tour.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  October 13 - 28
It proved to be a great launch, the cars have been well received and performed faultlessly, the weather, apart from one day, has been stunning and the roads have been awesome - as our American cousins love to say. Highlights were the sunrises and sunsets, the quiet roads, staying in some Airstream camper vans in the remote desert and now a quick stopover back in England and then out to Dubai.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  October 5
A great week exploring Palm Springs and some of the finest driving roads between the city and the desert town of Berrago Springs. I'm thinking the journalists are going to love this as it's one of the finest launch areas I've been.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  October 4
Arrived in Palm Springs, California, USA - ah the warmth of the sun on my skin and arrival at the quirky The Korakia Pensione hotel. This will be home for the next four weeks whilst we shoot and cover the launch of Aston Martin's new Vanquish Volante and the stunning Vantage V12 S.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  October 3
Physio has gone well, so I can put weight on my leg, walk and even drive; sadly my Leon hasn't had a huge amount to do over the past month, so it's great to get behind the wheel again - even if it's only an early morning run to Heathrow.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  September - October 2013
After the Bentley Flying Spur launch, life very much centred around leg recovery. I had intense physio after the plaster was removed and my new Aircast was fitted in order that I could head out to California for Aston Martin on October 3rd.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  September 6
Bentley launch is finished, I made it through and still managed to get car-to-car pictures from the Leon; the ride is a tad hard for this really but as you can see the shots are sharp enough...
 

Image by Max Earey.

  September 5
Waiting in the New Forest for the Bentleys - as much as I like Volkswagen Kombis I really can't see anybody paying £23,000 for this - it makes it more expensive than my SEAT with all its goodies!
 

Image by Max Earey.

  September 2
Never been a great passenger and having someone drive my SEAT is a strange and frustrating experience, but without it I couldn't have done the launch. Life in the passenger seat is comfortable though and two-up with all my gear is no problem for the FR and it performs like a dream.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 30
Had a few very quiet days at home resting my leg, made calls and sadly had to pull out of a couple of jobs. Did some editing for my website and started to prepare for the Bentley Flying Spur UK launch, which starts on Sept 1st; fortunately I've an assistant/driver for the week so in theory I should be able to do the job.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 24
Oops... my neighbour took me to A&E and being a typical bloke I suggested to them; all I need is a support bandage and I'd walk it off. This wasn't quite the support bandage I was thinking of. Five x-rays later and it's established that I've partially ruptured three tendons from my calf to ankle. Joy. Quite serious as I've a few jobs booked in and can't drive my manual FR.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 23
The mountains near Crickhowell offer some fine driving roads and stunning views - the perfect place for images of great cars; I may well take the Leon back for its own shoot. Sadly it won't be for a while, as stepping off a car yesterday has damaged my leg and I'm off to A&E!
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 22
Looks as if it's down to three cars for the title of Car of the Year, the Porsche Cayman S, the Audi RS 6 Avant and the Jaguar F-Type.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 21
A Car of the Year shoot for the next couple of days, I've driven back down to South Wales, a lovely early morning blast in the Leon, comfort and refinement again scoring very high in my book, more the quick enough and still returning a solid 49.6mpg. Porsche, Jaguar, Range Rover, Ford, Audi, Bentley and BMW are in the line. Tried my best to get them to include the Leon, It certainly holds its own in the style stakes.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 20
Editing the M6 Gran Coupé today and it's mega - a big car, fast, powerful, comfortable and very, very spacious. It's expensive especially when the option boxes are ticked up but you'll end up getting to where you want to go with a huge smile from ear to ear!
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 19
Another first for me and I'm heading down the M4 to hook up with BMW Car magazine and the new M6 version of the Gran Coupé - no problem today in fitting all my equipment from the FR into the boot of the M6.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 16
The Big Boss here at Car Enthusiast picks me up and we're off to the mountains. Got to work quickly as rain is forecast and knowing Ireland the weather gods will no doubt deliver! First up is the new Clio RS; looks good - personally the rear shots look tougher. It goes well too but you'll have to wait to read Shane's review of this hot little hatch...
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 15
Off to Ireland today; been lucky for a week or so not to have any really early starts so today is a bit of a shock. Fortunately it's only Stansted so time to crank up the SEAT sound system and get some tunes playing via Bluetooth to wake me up before I can get to my Starbucks caffeine fix.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 11
We've had one hell of a summer and I've settled on capturing some sunset pics of the Vantage down on the coast road around Beachey Head. I was here recently with my five-door and also the new three-door Leon SC - not such good weather then sadly. The weather today is great and the result is some pleasant images in this glorious soft and warm evening light.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 10
Five days with the Aston Martin V12 Vantage ahead - no plans, just the task to get some nice pictures. The Leon easily swallows all the gear I need just in the boot space alone - not sure I'll be fitting too much in the back of the Aston.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 9
Been looking forward today for a few weeks now - I'm away to Gaydon, to the Aston Martin factory to pick up something rather special...
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 8
More web work today and being a big SEAT fan, I had to include a pic of the Leon Cup Race car performing for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. This angle really shows the aggressive and sleek stance. The design for me is a real winner on the track and on my road car.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 7
August is generally one of the quieter months of the year for car snappers, so perfect timing to catch up on paperwork and start work on building another website (maxearey.net) and some promotion for 2014. Here is my favourite pic so far from 2013.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 6
Just editing and sending some stock images of the SEAT Altea XL today; it's obviously not a sporting as my Leon FR, but very well screwed together and corners smoothly and totally under control for a taller car.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  August 5
My courtyard has looked a tad like a SEAT dealership this weekend - shooting stock pics of the Altea Ecomotive and XL. Both efficient and practical as they are, I have to say though that I'm glad the FR remains my day-to-day car.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  July 23
Off to the Med today, some yacht work and a few days relaxing. I've had the Leon a month now and the looks, quality and performance all rate very highly in my book. It's a great car and I'm looking forward to more wheel time when I'm back in August.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  July 19
Down to the West Country today and a meeting with the Mitsubishi Mirage.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  July 18
Magazine shoot at Rockingham: hot hatches, no SEAT involved but thought on looks alone the FR stands up well; performance wise too it'd be there or thereabouts. Did get to shoot this as well, thought it was very special in every way,
 

Image by Max Earey.

  July 11-14
Goodwood 2013: here we are again and it's as hot as hell! Some stunning cars going up the hill. SEAT has a funky stand and then the Leon Cup Racer makes its appearance. Wow.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  July 8
Early start again, no time for sunrise scenic though, Stansted airport, Ryanair and a trip to Dublin. Did get to shoot the new Ibiza Cupra though. For me though the Leon wins hands down in the looks department.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  July 3
Now this is more like it; set your own drive profile: eco, normal, sport and a dial up your own settings... Sport is the one, cool ambient red lighting inside with this mode too.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  July 1
Well-equipped car with plenty of safety features including a built in video camera that detects and analyses various road markings and warns you if you wander - easily turned off but useful after a seven-hour stint to Scotland maybe?
 

Image by Max Earey.

  June 29
Another dawn start and a meet up with Martin Johnson and the new Range Rover Sport. As you do.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  June 27
The FR has a few miles on it now and loosening up nicely, finding it quiet (apart from the start up) and responsive especially on my longer journeys, although I'm not a stop-start fan.
 

Image by Max Earey.

  June 24
Off to Beachey Head to shoot the new Leon SC and hook up with the video team. Got to say, as cool as the five-door looks, the three-door Leon appears sportier in my opinion. It even turns in a tad better as well!
 

SEAT Leon FR. Image by Max Earey.

  June 20
Bentley Motor Works, a stress free journey, no rattles, squeaks, aches or pains. Journey was a very good and very promising introduction to the new SEAT Leon FR: looks good, goes well, great in-car entertainment and a fine satnav system so far. OK it's not as refined as this W12-engined Continental GT, but it's part of the VAG family and the quality shows.
 

SEAT Leon FR. Image by Max Earey.

  June 20
At 107 miles into the journey, have to say I'm more than pleased with these figures - over 50mpg and an average of 64mph, no complaints. Comfort is also very good. I've got the sports seats fitted so I'll be reporting on any aches and pains when I get home tomorrow.
 

SEAT Leon FR. Image by Max Earey.

  June 20
Early start as the sun rises, my first long journey in the Leon FR, looking forward to it. Over 200 miles to visit Bentley Motor Works in Crewe. The engine only has a few miles on it so it'll be interesting to see some economy figures after 100 miles or so.
 

SEAT Leon FR. Image by Max Earey.

  June 19
No time to waste. Took it for a quick blast in the countryside to get a few shots in the bag. Good fun cornering.
 

SEAT Leon FR. Image by Max Earey.

  June 19
Our new SEAT Leon FR arrives! Looks awesome in silver. It's the 184hp 2.0 TDI model with a six-speed manual gearbox. Retails at £22,375.
 

  A brief history of the SEAT Leon

SEAT first introduced the Leon hatchback in 1998. Then, as now, it shared a lot with other Volkswagen Group cars, but was made in the company's plant in Martorell in Spain. The second generation arrived in 2005 and that was replaced in 2012 by the current model, developed on the Group's new 'MQB' platform system. It's up to 90kg lighter than before.

At the time of writing, the SEAT Leon is offered in the UK in S, SE, FR and Cupra guises. Petrol engine options are 1.2 TSI 105, 1.4 TSI 140 and 1.8 TSI 180. Diesel engines include the 1.6 TDI 105, 2.0 TDI 150 and 2.0 TDI 184. The dual-clutch DSG automatic gearbox is available with most engines.

All these engines and trim levels are available in the standard five-door hatchback, in the three-door SC ('Sport Coupé'), which features a shorter wheelbase, or the Sport Tourer (ST) estate. Topping the range are the Cupra and Cupra 280 hatchbacks powered by 265- and 280hp versions of a 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine.

Other SEAT Leon stories

SEAT Leon Euro NCAP result
  SEAT Leon scores five stars in Euro NCAP tests
SEAT Leon wins Auto Express Car of the Year 2013
  SEAT Leon wins Auto Express Car of the Year 2013
SEAT Leon first drive
  Our first drive in the SEAT Leon
(1.6 TDI SE model)
SEAT Leon SC first drive
  Our first drive in the SEAT Leon SC
(1.8 TSI FR DSG model)
SEAT Leon ST first drive
  Our first drive in the SEAT Leon ST
(2.0 TDI 150 DSG model)
SEAT Leon ST first UK drive
  Our first UK drive in the SEAT Leon ST
(1.2 S TSI 105 model)
SEAT Leon Cupra first drive
  Our first drive in the SEAT Leon Cupra
(280 manual model)
 






 

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