SEAT’s take on the movement towards hybrid-powered cars, the Leon FR e-HYBRID PHEV – bit of a mouthful that! – makes for a great drive courtesy of the added bite that the electric power unit adds to the gutsy 1.4 TSI petrol engine.

This produces one horse over 200hp and that’s pretty well enough to give a zesty performance which will do the timed run of 0-62 in just 7.5 seconds. Now that’s not the hottest of hot-hatch performances, but plenty enough for the kind of buyers that Seat wants to attract.

As is usual with this type, the set-up re-charges the batteries as you go along using assisted braking as part of the re-generation of the batteries. In this respect, you have to trust the in-built braking to largely make your braking foot redundant, which can be easier said than done.

But, if you just want to floor it most of the time, then a simple three-pin plug can be used to charge up the battery overnight on this PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) version as tested.

The test Leon came as a hatch-back style and features revamped ‘soft’ design changes which have recently come in. These have sharpened up the look, especially making the most of the LED light features.

Being part of the VW/Audi group means that function, rather than form is the name of the game inside the cabin, but there’s a familiarity of ease of use built-in to the ergonomics.

That said, the Leon has an impressive infotainment itinerary, with most of its functionality controlled via the impressive and easy to use 10-inch touch-screen.

There is a quite confusing array of trim levels to choose from, but from the mid-range SE-Dynamic north you get online connectivity, connected satnav, ‘retina display’ (whatever that is!) and voice control for some functions – it might even understand a wave!

Connecting your smart phone is easily done and there’s other tech features, such as Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto, to keep the geeks in the family happy. Thankfully, I’m not one of them and I’d rather just enjoy the Leon’s tight handling and agile suspension.

The handling is helped greatly by the impressive drivetrain which includes the seamless changing offered by the seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and if you want to enjoy it to its fullest, then you will get nowhere near the ‘book’ figure of 200-plus mpg!

The gearbox has a S-mode which allows drivers to select gears using the gear handle, but there’s also a pair of paddle shifters behind the wheel to do the same.

As the test car had the FR trim, this adds more digital features such as wireless phone charging, plus the likes of three-zone climate control, and park assist.

Being slightly longer than the older FR model, this leads to more legroom for rear passengers and the freeing up of more boot space. The rear luggage compartment has 380 litres with the rear seats in play, but take them down – they have a 60-40 split folding capability – and this rises to an impressive 1220 litres with the floor flat. It would have been even more without the burden of the battery pack under the floor.

As well as saving on the mpg front, there is also considerable tax savings for owners. The plug-in model gets a 6% benefit in charge tax rating and with an electric-only range of 40 miles, that’s enough to put it into a low ‘benefit in kind’ taxation bracket for business users.

One of the downsides is that the rechargeable battery pack makes this 340kg heavier than the standard Leon, but not that you would notice from the punchy performance of the combined power units.

Prices start at from just under £21,000, but the Leon FR e-Hybrid PHEV as tested hit the road at a fairly hefty £30,970.