For a lot of motorists the choice of a new car is as much about image as getting the vehicle that meets their needs and desires.

And if you are one of those, the chances are you will pay a premium for the model you eventually select, when you could get away with less.

Take SEAT’s diesel hot hatch the Leon FR, which boasts 184bhp, a top speed of 142 miles per hour and rocket-like acceleration for a diesel which allows it to hit 62 mph in just 7.5 seconds. More than enough power to satisfy the needs of most motorists.

Interestingly the latest Volkswagen Golf GTD uses the same engine and so the above figures are identical.

But what is not identical is the price. For while the Leon will cost you £22,555, if you want the Golf you will have to pay more than £3,000 more.

Now there are numerous reasons why the Golf is more expensive, but at the end of day if it’s performance you are seeking it’s certainly worth doing your maths.

The new, third-generation Leon FR, is a striking car, with its triangular shaped full LED headlights, distinctive grille and combination of sharp body creases which catch the eye.

Twin exhausts, darkened rear side windows and 18-inch alloys are just two of the features which add to the sporting character.

Unlike on the previous generation, the hidden rear doors handles have been replaced by traditional ones as the arrival of the three-door SC model has removed the need for the five-door to look like a coupe.

Inside the sporting image continues with rally-style front seats to hold you firmly in place and a neat, multi-function leather steering wheel with a squared off lower section to make getting in and out of the car easier.

With 184bhp on tap the Leon FR is a very lively car with plenty of power available instantly. There’s a nice sporty exhaust note befitting the nature of the FR but I did find the engine slightly noisier than on the Golf and road noise too was higher than I would have expected.

That said the Leon FR is a great fun car with great acceleration, good road holding yet with a host of practical features which make it just as suitable for those looking for an out-and-out sports car as the family man who wants performance but needs space too.

The Seat Leon FR has a multi-function leather steering wheel
The Seat Leon FR has a multi-function leather steering wheel
 

Under the rear hatch there’s a sensible 380 litres of luggage space – 39 litres more than its predecessor – which rises to 587 litres with the rear seats backs folded down.

And with the fuel consumption of a supermini, no road tax the first year and just £20 in subsequent years that sporting family man should find it easy to justify this car to his spouse.

Unlike on the Golf, you get a conventional rather than an electronic handbrake but as with the Golf you can select the style of driving that suits you with a button on the dashboard allowing you to switch between eco, comfort and sport or even feed in your own individual settings.

Switch to sport and the power steering becomes seven per cent stiffer so it feels heavier while the response of the accelerator pedal is altered, requiring less movement to open up the throttle fully, giving it a “sharper” feel.

Switch to comfort and the opposite is true, allowing for smoother driving.

The SEAT Leon FR has a lot to commend it and is certainly a car that appeals to the head as well as the heart.

Fast Facts

Model: SEAT Leon FR TDI

Price: £22,555

Mechanical: 1968cc, 4 cyl, 187bhp diesel engine driving front wheels via 6spd manual gearbox.

Max speed: 142 mph

0-60 mp h: 7.5 secs

Combined mpg: 67.3

CO2 emissions: 109 g/km

Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles