Fleet World Fleet: Seat Leon e-Hybrid FR
Luke Wikner reflects back on six months behind the wheel of SEAT’s impressive Leon e-Hybrid.
P11d (BIK): £32,835 (6%) MPG/CO2: 67.3mpg/27g/km Test MPG: 300+mpg
For some, plug-in hybrids can seem like something of a half-way house, and too much of a compromise between the coming wave of fully electric vehicles (BEVs) and traditional ICE vehicles. But given the Government’s 2030 legislation, PHEVs will only become more prevalent in the UK car parc.
And so we have SEAT’s first PHEV – the new Leon e-Hybrid – and it’s brilliant. You will often hear people say that PHEVs only really make sense when driving patterns allow them to, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I am the perfect fit for the Leon… the proverbial square peg in a square hole.
Putting aside the 6% BiK rate for 2020/21, which means tax of just £25 per month going to HMRC, if you have the infrastructure (charging points at work and at home), lessened travel due to Covid, and don’t mind plugging in every 40 miles, the Leon e-Hybrid is incredibly hard to fault. Not even a pothole-induced puncture could dampen my enthusiasm. More next time…
It’s fair to say that my previous report read like a eulogy to the PHEV, extolling the virtues of being in the right car, at the right place, at the right time. And feeling slightly smug about it. But the reality is that this is the conundrum that will be facing both fleet operators and their drivers (who will no doubt have a million and one questions) in the next few years as replacement cycles come around. Where can I charge? What happens if I run out of battery? Do I live too far away from the office to make something like a PHEV deliver the benefits that its low-CO2 and BiK promise on a daily basis?
And although this conundrum won’t have a one-size-fits-all answer, the fleet industry’s suppliers – and in particular telematics companies – are on-hand to provide actionable, granular data to help fleet operators make these decisions.
How does this all relate to the new Leon e-Hybrid? Well, for starters, it’s not a Porsche Taycan with an incredible electric range and equally inaccessible price for many drivers. It’s truly accessible, completely obviates range anxiety, and for the right drivers, of which there will be many, it will make an ultra-efficient company car. True, having the option to rapid-charge the 13kWh battery would be useful – like JLR’s latest models – but alas, you can’t have everything.
The truly excellent Leon e-Hybrid has now officially been de-Fleet World-fleeted. Ordinarily, at this juncture, I would be incredibly sad to see the back of a car that has averaged over 300+mpg in 5,000 miles; offers very low BiK; looks good; has comfortable (although not heated in FR trim) seats and does everything well. But I’m not. The reason being that it has been replaced by a Cupra Formentor e-Hybrid, which to the uninitiated – and judging by the number of people who have stopped to ask me about the new car, there are a few – is SEAT’s performance brand’s all-new PHEV crossover.
Back to the Leon though, and I feel I should be on commission… The level of interest in EVs these days is growing rapidly, as is the thirst for knowledge and real-world experience of running plug-in hybrids. So when a company car driver in our business park quizzed me while I was charging the Leon, I could only really think of positive things to say – whilst applying the usual caveats of PHEVs being suitable for some drivers but not others.
My sales patter clearly worked as he is about to take delivery of… a Cupra Formentor e-Hybrid, citing the slightly better interior space, cachet and practicality over the Leon. It probably helped that his monthly allowance was able to stretch that bit further too.
More on the Cupra – first impressions of which are very promising – next time. Leon is gone, long live the Formentor.