With the launch of the Seat Leon SC, the Seat Leon range is filling out nicely.

Having started with the five-door hatchback version, the Volkswagen Group’s Spanish arm added the even prettier three-door, followed by the practical ST estate and the Octavia Scout and Golf Alltrack sibling - the X-Perience. At the same time, it quietly ushered into the UK the engine we’ve been waiting to test.

It’s the most powerful motor in the line-up unless you care to cast your eye at the 286bhp 2.0-litre TSI engine under the bonnet of the Cupra 290 models. It’s also a fleet-friendly diesel. The high-output 2.0-litre TDI has landed – and, on paper, it’s by some margin the most alluring version of an already quite alluring-looking car.

Seat has memorable precedent with hot diesel hatchbacks and can claim quite reasonably to have been among the earliest to exploit the concept. 

The original Seat Leon Cupra TDI, introduced in the early noughties, had four-wheel drive and was branded Cupra 4 TDI. That version never made it to the UK, but when the front-drive 148bhp oil-burner arrived in 2003, it found a ready following for warmer diesel-fuelled offerings.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Maserati Levante S GranLusso 2019 road test review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    Car review
    Is this Ferrari-engined Levante the performance SUV it always should have...
  • Bentley Continental GT Convertible 2019 UK first drive review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    First Drive
    New Conti Convertible has all the many advantages of a new platform, seen...
  • Audi SQ5 2019 first drive review - hero front
    22 May 2019
    First Drive
    High-performance soft-roader adopts new sporty V6 diesel mild-hybrid power,...

‘Cupra’ became ‘FR TDI’ with the second-generation Leon and power rose to 168bhp, but a little of the original Leon’s dynamic magic went by the wayside. The FR was a stiffer-legged machine and five-door only.

But just how excited should up-and-coming junior managers be about this frugal and fast Seat? And should private buyers be excited, too, given the status within the Leon range that its positioning suggests?

Have we reached the tipping point where low emissions, high economy and torque-laden performance can outweigh the more vivacious fizz of a petrol performance hatch? Or do Seat's more conventional petrol and diesel options, ranging from 1.2-litre petrols to 2.0-litre diesels, still make more sense?

For the sake of your P11D, if nothing else, read on.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Maserati Levante S GranLusso 2019 road test review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    Car review
    Is this Ferrari-engined Levante the performance SUV it always should have...
  • Bentley Continental GT Convertible 2019 UK first drive review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    First Drive
    New Conti Convertible has all the many advantages of a new platform, seen...
  • Audi SQ5 2019 first drive review - hero front
    22 May 2019
    First Drive
    High-performance soft-roader adopts new sporty V6 diesel mild-hybrid power,...