While looking for an obscure Leon Russell album the other day, Shed found himself looking at this rather spiffy SEAT Leon 20vT Cupra in black with black leather. That was slightly annoying, but he bookmarked it anyway as a possible Shed of the Week.
Shed's next bit of Googleage, for reasons as yet unknown, was for sites relating to 'Black Magic Woman'. Again to his frustration he found himself shunted into the PH classifieds, and in particular to this ad for a very clean-looking BMW 325i.
Shed took this double snafu as a sign to abandon his immediate plans and set off on an alternative course: a Twin Shed special.
As all bright PHers know, the Leon was based on the Mk4 Golf, which was launched in 1997 and went on sale in 1998 - the same year that the BMW E46 and the first-gen Leon arrived. The major differences between the silky German and the Spanish temptress are the driven wheels - rears on the BMW, fronts on the SEAT - and the method by which their power was generated - small capacity four-cylinder turbo in the SEAT, bigger displacement big-suck six in the BM.
From that point on the similarities begin to add up. SEAT power and 0-60 time: 180hp and 7.7sec. BMW power and 0-60 time: 189hp and 7.3sec. Very little in it on economy, with mpg figures in the low 30s. Cost in 2017: around £1,200 for these manual-gearboxed specimens (six-speed in the SEAT, five-speed in the E46) showing pretty much identical mileages and pretty much the same degree of care in ownership.
The SEAT has had three owners, the current one for more than 10 years. He's put a lot of time and money into it too. The MoT history is more eventful than the BMW's, with a couple of reds, but most of it is for consumables - i.e. suspension, tyres, brakes and the like, badges of honour really for an enthusiast-owned Cupra.
There's no mention of damp or rusty floors, a built-in Leon problem resulting from the nasty foam door seals that were used instead of proper silicone ones. That non-opening rear door is another classic Leon trait. It failed its April MoT on that, got mended for the pass, but by the sounds of it isn't done bothering people yet. If the coil packs haven't failed on this car at some point, that will be some sort of miracle. Clutches tend to conk out after 80K miles or so, along with top mounts.
Both these cars have long MoTs and a very distinct appeal of their own. Which one would you pick?
Here are the ads:
BMW 325i SE Manual
4 Door Saloon, Registered 2001, Metallic Green Exterior, Light Grey cloth Interior, 1 year's MOT, Full Service History, £1,200 ono.
Discs, Brakes and Suspension recently refurbished and fully MOT'd until August 2018, A/C, Cruise Control, BMW Business Radio plus CD multi-changer, Fitted carpet mats and many extras. Two owners since new. Strong V6 engine. Minor blemishes on bodywork, which can easily be rectified, but otherwise very nice, clean and reliable car.
2003 SEAT Leon Cupra
I have owned this car for over 10 years and I have serviced it and maintained it every year without fail.
6 gears manual
Black leather electric seats
Metallic black paintwork
CD mulitchanger / radio
130k miles (car in use so may go up slightly)
All tyres have lots of life (Hankooks on rear only done 2000 miles)
17 inch 5 spoke original alloys
Genuine car with lots and lots of receipts for its whole life. No current warning Lights.
Service book full of stamps for every year. Last serviced and MOT was May 2017
Cam belt kit and water pump last replaced @115,000 miles in 2014
Front breaks replaced 2015
New Battery Feb 2017 with 2 year guarantee.
Last service @ 128k miles, May 2017 (oil, filters)
The honest points:
1) Usual age related chips and minor
scratches. No significant bodywork damage at all.
Rear nearside door can be temperamental to open.
3) Air con needs re-gassing.
4) MOT may 18