THE third generation Leon is probably the most memorable SEAT to date.

Shorter, wider and lower than the outgoing model, its sharp styling and eye-catching LED headlamps give the Leon a distinctive and sporty stance. It handles well and it’s a good drive, if a little uninspiring, but it’s the car’s economy that appeals to me the most.

The new Eco version of the Leon emits just 87g/km of CO2, which is the lowest ever carbon-dioxide emissions figure for a SEAT. So there’s no road tax to pay and there’s also a hell of a lot of miles to the gallon – almost 86 – although my rather impatient driving resulted in a slightly lower figure.

There are three petrol and two diesel engines to choose from and three spec levels - S, SE, and FR – all with a great list of standard equipment, including air-conditioning, a colour touchscreen, and Bluetooth connectivity.

I drove the SE model, which came with 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights with cornering function, cruise control, rear electric windows, front arm rest with integrated storage box, front reading lights with ambient spots and footwell illumination, XDS electronic limited-slip differential, and hill hold control.

The steering wheel has controls for audio and telephone and the Infotainment System includes an MP3-compatible CD player, radio, USB port, SD card slot, AUX-in port and six speakers.

A first for the Leon, Tiredness Recognition does exactly that – recognises when you’re tired and sounds an alert, which acts as a ‘gentle’ reminder to take a break. It is just an option of course, but just like having a smoke alarm, it’s better to be safe than sorry! It also has High Beam Assist which automatically reacts to different light conditions and ensures that oncoming traffic is not dazzled by your headlights.

The 380-litre boot is 39 litres bigger than its predecessor and the cabin itself felt a lot more spacious overall. Head and legroom has been improved and wider rear doors make it easier to get in and out of the back of the car, particularly useful when transporting young children.

I also drove the entry level, three-door Leon SC (in bright green!) and while this was also a great drive, as a busy mum-of-two, I prefer the practicality of the five-door model.

SEAT Leon SE 1.6
Price: £19,660
Top speed: 122mph
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Fuel: 85.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 87g/km