Road test: join the Dark Side with the Seat Leon FR+

Come and join the Dark Side
Come and join the Dark Side

A massive journey to Kilmarnock. At rush hour. Still, a long, leisurely trundle along the motorway will be good for me after the day at work I’ve had. Time to unwind, really.

No sooner had I programmed the GPS than it was throwing my boring old plan of taking the M8 out of the window and demanding a breakneck burn along the A71 with an ETA of 7.47pm: two minutes after the football match I was going to see kicks off.

I hate missing the kick-off.

It was as I was fumbling around with the GPS controls to switch the damn thing off for proposing such a rubbish route that, and I’d been so distracted by these inane instructions that I was in the wrong lane on the roundabout and being hurled — as if by some malevolent force — towards the A71 anyway.

Have you seen The Omen? It was exactly like that. Devious, this car.

The evil “phantom black” colour scheme (does absolutely everything on the car with the exception of the wing mirrors being black count as a “colour scheme”?) offers a hint at this beast’s dark heart.

That growling, purring 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine is a constantly-nagging devil on your back, always leading you into temptation, towards the Dark Side.

If Darth Vader drove, he may well have driven one of these.

Maybe more likely he would have driven a Humvee though, what with him being a planet-destroying ****.

Presented with a stretch of open road, it would take the resolve of Yoda to resist the urge to slam down the accelerator pedal, letting that 208bhp engine slam you deeper into those firm black leather sports seats as you launch into hyperspace. ETA: 7.42pm

The steering, light and responsive, makes throwing the car round bends and roundabouts all too easy, all too tempting, while the grippy handling makes such naughty activities rather habit-forming.

Or at least, that’s what I found, having been lured down the A71 by that nefarious GPS, then led a merry dance through East Kilbride and its gnarly concrete-rimmed roundabouts. Try as I might, I just couldn’t drive the FR+ round them sensibly, and we skimmed perilously close to those alloy-mashing kerbs. ETA: 7.36pm.

More disciplined drivers than me can reach 62mph from stationary in 6.9 seconds, but my attempts to replicate this feat were stymied by a week of rain and greasy roads coupled with, I admit, not a little overexuberance on my part.

My feeble control of the 280Nm of torque tended to result in a squealy flurry of wheel-spinning on the spot before the grip would suddenly take and we’d streak off into the distance like Scooby Doo when he’s seen a ghost. ETA: 7.33pm.

It’s not just the speed. The FR+ seduces you in altogether more wholesome ways too.

There’s the fuel consumption, which Seat claims can hit 49.6mpg. But only if you are a nun.

With all that riproaring power bubbling right underneath your toe, how could anyone but the most chaste and pure of spirit not fly like a bat out of hell from every roundabout, every set of traffic lights or parking space, cackling manically as they do?

I was averaging around 27mpg on this blast to Kilmarnock, which isn’t too bad for something which was such devilishly good fun. ETA: 7.31pm.

Then there’s the price. It’s about £4,000 cheaper than a Golf GTI and you pretty much get a Golf GTI engine here.

It’s about the same amount dearer than a Ford Focus Zetec S. It looks better, though, and you get more power, kit and evilness into the bargain.

That kit includes digital radio, Bluetooth, sports seats, cruise control and parking sensors.

You’ll need those sensors too, because, in a Faustian bargain, those delicious evil-eye-shaped windows come at the expense of being able to see much of what’s happening over your shoulder.

Parking in Kilmarnock took me about as long as the Eaglesham-to-Kingswell stretch.

So here I am at Rugby Park. It’s absolutely freezing. Twenty minutes before kick-off. I hate arriving early. Already looking forward to getting those heated seats fired up and having a nice, relaxing amble back along the M8.

But what’s that I hear? It’s like a burbling, growling engine calling me, the succubus behind the GPS seducing me, persuading me, compelling me: the B744 via Dead Man’s Curve would be a far more exciting way to go.

CAR: Seat Leon FR+ 2.0 TSI

PRICE: £21,940 (£25,150 as tested)

EMISSIONS: 170g/km

PERFORMANCE: Max speed 145mph; 0-62mph: 6.9s

MPG: 38.7 combined