Another FR ride quality thread

Charlie Bix

Active Member
Dec 6, 2020
13
5
Angmering
Recently got my 1.4TSI FR the day before the second lockdown and didn’t have aslong as I would usually like to get a car as I need it for work so only test drove one other Leon before getting this one on PCP from a main dealer.

It’s in great condition, was cheaper than the alternative Leon with lower mileage and had the nicer looking 18inch wheels where as the other one had the Dynamic 17s.

The ride didn’t seem much worse on the test drive, but 6 weeks on the ride quality particularly at motorway speeds is starting to annoy me as my commute is mainly on A and B roads.

It’s mainly the way sharper bumps and imperfections are really noticeable that’s beginning to wear thin. It’s not the initial ‘bump’ but the way the suspension takes awhile to settle after, almost like a wobble especially at the rear that grates the most. I know the torsion beam doesn’t help matters but I’ve had a civic in the past with a torsion beam and that rode really well, granted it was only on 16s though. I have even considered booking it in with Seat to see if the rear shocks are in good condition, but with only 22k on the clock I can’t imagine they would be knackered already.

My first thought was to get a set of Seat 17inch wheels, i actually really like the pre facelift FR 17s especially if resprayed in gunmetal and some decent all season tyres which will be softer than the Michelin and Bridgestone summer tyres my 18s currently have on.

Just wondered if anyone has experience of both wheel sizes and switching to all season tyres?

The other option is to possibly swap the shocks and springs over to the softer ones on the SE and Excellence models as I’ve read they ride substantially better, unfortunately I didn’t have the time to test drive one so don’t have any first hand experience.

On paper that would be the more costly option but I have a friend of a friend who works at a Seat main dealer and could get this done for reasonable money.

Although not my main priority I think my 18s could look a bit silly with the increased ride height of the softer suspension setup.

Other than the ride quality I love the car and doesn’t feel like a massive step down coming from a A6 3.0 bitdi which is a relief! Worth mentioning the A6 was on 20’s with S Line suspension so I’m not expecting Rolls Royce ride quality, I just feel it’s not as good as it could be in Leon as it currently stands.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciate (y)
 

Seriously?

Active Member
Apr 20, 2018
749
460
Mrs S has a 1.4TSi FR on 17's with factory Hankook tyres. The ride is a tad firm, but well controlled with none of the rebound issue that you mention. Her car is an ST however, maybe the extra body length improves things slightly (although the wheelbase is the same as your hatch).
Unfortunately I have no other Leon experience to compare it with, but it certainly holds up in terms of ride quality compared with my previous 3 Series Touring and current C Class estate on 40 and 35 profile 18's and Sport suspension.
 
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Brian Gordon-Stables

Active Member
Jan 16, 2020
423
147
Leicestershire, UK
I've got an ST FR and it has/had a slight tail end `shimmy`. From what I've read, several Leon drivers have commented on it. I also drive a lot of A and B roads. Most of the time it's fine, it's only at speed when the car goes a bit light it does it. It used to be worse and like you say, took time to settle. Could be quite unnerving at times. I got the rear shocks changed at about 90,000 miles as they were knocking a bit (known issue) and it was only then that I realised how spongey they were and stopping the back of the car settling down. Your shocks shouldn't be in need of changing, but you never know. My car rarely shimmys now and it drives a lot better.

Ref wheels/tyes. I'm pre FL and have 17". The brand new stock tyres from the car shop were cheap & cheerful and rock hard. Didn't realise how bad they were until I changed them for some RainSports. Ride was smoother and I had more grip. Can't really offer any advice ref the 18" v 17" but tyre choice does seem to have an impact.

Like you've said - you've got some options. I'm sure some others will offer their words of wisdom.
 
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Glosphil

Active Member
Nov 10, 2004
138
52
Gloucestershire
My 2018 FR certainly has a better ride on its winter 225/45-17 Nokians than on its summer 225/40-18s.
However, I dont find the summer ride needs any modification. But my previous car, for 6 years, was an 2012 Octavia vRS so I am used to a hard ride.
 
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SuperV8

Active Member
May 30, 2019
245
108
Recently got my 1.4TSI FR the day before the second lockdown and didn’t have aslong as I would usually like to get a car as I need it for work so only test drove one other Leon before getting this one on PCP from a main dealer.

It’s in great condition, was cheaper than the alternative Leon with lower mileage and had the nicer looking 18inch wheels where as the other one had the Dynamic 17s.

The ride didn’t seem much worse on the test drive, but 6 weeks on the ride quality particularly at motorway speeds is starting to annoy me as my commute is mainly on A and B roads.

It’s mainly the way sharper bumps and imperfections are really noticeable that’s beginning to wear thin. It’s not the initial ‘bump’ but the way the suspension takes awhile to settle after, almost like a wobble especially at the rear that grates the most. I know the torsion beam doesn’t help matters but I’ve had a civic in the past with a torsion beam and that rode really well, granted it was only on 16s though. I have even considered booking it in with Seat to see if the rear shocks are in good condition, but with only 22k on the clock I can’t imagine they would be knackered already.

My first thought was to get a set of Seat 17inch wheels, i actually really like the pre facelift FR 17s especially if resprayed in gunmetal and some decent all season tyres which will be softer than the Michelin and Bridgestone summer tyres my 18s currently have on.

Just wondered if anyone has experience of both wheel sizes and switching to all season tyres?

The other option is to possibly swap the shocks and springs over to the softer ones on the SE and Excellence models as I’ve read they ride substantially better, unfortunately I didn’t have the time to test drive one so don’t have any first hand experience.

On paper that would be the more costly option but I have a friend of a friend who works at a Seat main dealer and could get this done for reasonable money.

Although not my main priority I think my 18s could look a bit silly with the increased ride height of the softer suspension setup.

Other than the ride quality I love the car and doesn’t feel like a massive step down coming from a A6 3.0 bitdi which is a relief! Worth mentioning the A6 was on 20’s with S Line suspension so I’m not expecting Rolls Royce ride quality, I just feel it’s not as good as it could be in Leon as it currently stands.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciate (y)
Haven't driven the 1.4 with torsion bear rear suspension - but find the ride on my 184 TDI ST with independent rear suspension great, controlled but not harsh. I'm on the 17" which i'm actually growing to like the style, and Dunlop Sport tyres.

My only complaint is an slight NVH harmonic noise over certain road surfaces - common with the independent rear, apparently an Audi A3 harmonic sub frame mass damper cures this.

What tyre pressure are you running?
 
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Charlie Bix

Active Member
Dec 6, 2020
13
5
Angmering
@Seriously? From memory I was quite impressed with the ride of the first Leon I drove which had 17s so I’m definitely starting to think the wheel size has more of an impact than I first thought. Good to hear yours ride well enough, funny as I ran a 320d with 19inch runflats a few years back and the low speed ride was pretty poor but it smoothed out at higher speeds so the opposite of the Leon.

I actually passed up a ST as I asssumed the ride would be worse due to the extra weight :rolleyes: I’m intending on getting a spare wheel soon which might help with some extra weight over the rear axle, I have noticed when I’ve got more people in the car the ride feels more settled.

@Brian Gordon-Stables Glad it’s not just me being over sensitive, there is one particular bump on my commute which really unsettles it. I might have a look at the rear shocks at the weekend and see if there’s any signs of leaking, I know they all show misting overtime but if it looks enough to cause concern I’ll book it in as I’ve got 2 years warranty on it so won’t hurt (y)

On the subject of tyres, the Bridgestones on the rear don’t have a great deal of tread left and from what I’ve read they are pretty hard and noisy tyres even when new. Obviously don’t want to waste money on rear tyres for the 18s if I’m going to switch to 17s though.

@Glosphil Good to hear there is a noticeable difference when running smaller wheels and softer tyres. I actually find the low speed ride perfectly acceptable, it’s firm but I don’t mind that. Just the high speed ride that’s bothering me.
 

Charlie Bix

Active Member
Dec 6, 2020
13
5
Angmering
Haven't driven the 1.4 with torsion bear rear suspension - but find the ride on my 184 TDI ST with independent rear suspension great, controlled but not harsh. I'm on the 17" which i'm actually growing to like the style, and Dunlop Sport tyres.

My only complaint is an slight NVH harmonic noise over certain road surfaces - common with the independent rear, apparently an Audi A3 harmonic sub frame mass damper cures this.

What tyre pressure are you running?
I was quite impressed with the ride of the one I drove on 17s so really am starting to think wheel size might be my issue. So hard to judge on a half an hour test drive though.

I nearly bought a pre facelift Leon years ago and actually test drove a 1.4 tsi torsion beam back to back with your 184 TDi with independent suspension and didn’t notice a massive difference in ride tbh. Both were on 18s but I was a fair bit younger then and less bothered with things like ride quality!

I’ve heard good things about Dunlop’s both in terms of road noise and comfort, I’m likely going to go for the Goodyear Vector all seasons as being down on the south coast a true winter tyre isn’t really required (you know it will snow this winter down here now I’ve said that :ROFLMAO:).

Currently running 32 up front and 30 in the rear which is the comfort setting for just me in the car.
 

Soundlab

Active Member
Sep 14, 2019
41
10
Definitely prefer the look of the 18's on yours over the 17's on mine. That said, I only drove 2 (the one I bought and very briefly one other) and both were on 17's so not sure how different the drive is on the 18's. I'm running Goodyear Eagle F1 Asym's on mine on the front (same as I ran on my VW and on my Focus ST) and whatever was on it when I bought it on the back, and the ride is ok but a bit "crashy" at times depending on the surface.

Looking at your other thread, might see you out n about on the road.
 
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Brian Gordon-Stables

Active Member
Jan 16, 2020
423
147
Leicestershire, UK
@Seriously? From memory I was quite impressed with the ride of the first Leon I drove which had 17s so I’m definitely starting to think the wheel size has more of an impact than I first thought. Good to hear yours ride well enough, funny as I ran a 320d with 19inch runflats a few years back and the low speed ride was pretty poor but it smoothed out at higher speeds so the opposite of the Leon.

I actually passed up a ST as I asssumed the ride would be worse due to the extra weight :rolleyes: I’m intending on getting a spare wheel soon which might help with some extra weight over the rear axle, I have noticed when I’ve got more people in the car the ride feels more settled.

@Brian Gordon-Stables Glad it’s not just me being over sensitive, there is one particular bump on my commute which really unsettles it. I might have a look at the rear shocks at the weekend and see if there’s any signs of leaking, I know they all show misting overtime but if it looks enough to cause concern I’ll book it in as I’ve got 2 years warranty on it so won’t hurt (y)

On the subject of tyres, the Bridgestones on the rear don’t have a great deal of tread left and from what I’ve read they are pretty hard and noisy tyres even when new. Obviously don’t want to waste money on rear tyres for the 18s if I’m going to switch to 17s though.

@Glosphil Good to hear there is a noticeable difference when running smaller wheels and softer tyres. I actually find the low speed ride perfectly acceptable, it’s firm but I don’t mind that. Just the high speed ride that’s bothering me.

My ST drives really well. It's effectively a mini estate or hatchback that is about 28cm longer. It isn't a full-sized estate and drives like a hatch. The good thing about the 184 is that it has the ind rear suspension, better brakes, posher turbo and a few other subtle differences. Mine is also chipped to about 220bhp.

Overall - it's not really an estate car and I have a lot cars follow me down the A-roads that come out of the bends in the roads a lot further back than when we went in. I think that if you sort the wheels/tyres you might get a better ride. As for the `shimmy` - they are known for it and the ind supsension does help in that area.
 
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Jazzjames

Active Member
Sep 13, 2018
136
60
Germany
I wouldn't switch anything apart from the tyres if I were you. It's just a lot of time and money which probably isn't necessary. I would however change the tyres. The Bridgestones that were factory fit on my mum's Golf GTD were loud, harsh and pretty sketchy once the tread had worn down a bit. We switched over to Michelin PS4 tyres and the car was transformed.

Regarding changing the rims:
I have 235 35 R19 summer tyres and 225 45 R17 winter wheels. The difference is not big at all. You're talking about going from 18s to 17s, and the difference there will be even smaller. I know I'm comparing a summer to a winter tyre, but the car rides well on both wheel sizes. The only difference is the car does deal with really harsh bumps a little better on the 17s, but then again the car is more stable and yet keen to turn in on the 19s.

I use Goodyears F1 Asymmetric 5s in the summer and Conti Wintercontacts in the winter. I've had the Michelins on my car too and they are very similar to the Goodyears, I just got Goodyears because they were a little cheaper on that day.
 
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Sean Ryan

Active Member
May 2, 2020
16
5
I currently have a 2016 FR ST 150 on 18's, I do find the ride a bit harsh on the back roads and uneven surface, when finding the car I test drove another one the same but on 15's, (UK Import) and it was beautifully smooth, even on those harsh roads around the dealership. Test drove the one on 18's and while it was harsher, the price, mileage and history made it a worthwhile trade off.

My commute is 45km with 43 on the motorway so it doesn't really effect me that much anyway!
 
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BoomerBoom

Active Member
Jun 1, 2018
494
180
I've driven the Leon with 16, 17 and 18" wheels and think the amount of rubber makes a huge difference to the ride quality. The rear suspension type makes very little difference unless you are driving on the very edge, where the torsion type goes light when you least want it to.

16" rims are very comfortable, but can fold over if you corner hard, the 18" are unacceptable (to me anyway) as I don't like my internal organs jarred about. The 17 are a reasonable compromise, you still will feel every bump on a bad road but mostly fine otherwise.
 
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Walone

Active Member
Feb 10, 2016
1,090
250
Near Heathrow
I think the tyre pressures could be having a big effect on the ride quality, when I bought my car new I felt the ride was terrible and that was on 17's, I lowered the pressure to the 'Comfort' setting (32psi on my ST FR 1.4) and it improved the ride a great deal.
 
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Charlie Bix

Active Member
Dec 6, 2020
13
5
Angmering
@Jazzjames interesting you don’t see much difference between wheel sizes, I do get the rubber the wheels wear does make a big difference though. The fact yours rides well on 19s amazes me and says a lot about the Goodyear tyres as the ride on mine with 18s isn’t acceptable for my daily workhorse tbh. I do get ride quality can be subjective though, is your a torsion beam model out of interest?

There’s a set of second hand Leon 17s for sale locally with hankook tyres all round for only £200 and am tempted to get them just to see if it does make a difference. Could always sell them if not and not lose anything.

@Sean Ryan I’m sure 15s would ride lovely but also look a bit silly on an FR :LOL: that’s the annoying thing is the ride is acceptable at low speeds and Sod’s law my commute is all high speed as on previous cars I’ve found ride quality generally improves when speed increases.

@BoomerBoom Your comments were exactly my train of thought tbh, the one I drove with 17s for half an hour was acceptable ride wise but mine with 18s is just becoming frustrating now. I might have to grab a secondhand set just to see the difference for myself, also worth mentioning the one I drove on 17s had budget tyres all round so 17s with decent rubber might be the sweet spot.

@Walone I’ve set mine to comfort pressures too but didn’t seem to make a great deal of difference as they were actually slightly under inflated on the rears.

Appreicate all the feedback from everyone, exactly why I joined the forum (y)
 

Charlie Bix

Active Member
Dec 6, 2020
13
5
Angmering
Definitely prefer the look of the 18's on yours over the 17's on mine. That said, I only drove 2 (the one I bought and very briefly one other) and both were on 17's so not sure how different the drive is on the 18's. I'm running Goodyear Eagle F1 Asym's on mine on the front (same as I ran on my VW and on my Focus ST) and whatever was on it when I bought it on the back, and the ride is ok but a bit "crashy" at times depending on the surface.

Looking at your other thread, might see you out n about on the road.
I won’t lie the way the 18s look definitely influenced my decision, unfortunately I do about 20k miles a year so ride quality has to take preference over looks as I spend a lot longer in the car than I do looking at it. They do seem very sensitive to road surface though, might drive the route I took the one on 17s out on as it’s just round the corner from work and see how mine feels in comparison
 

Mr Pig

Active Member
Jun 17, 2015
2,195
707
We've had an SE and two FRs and used 16, 17 and 18 inch wheels. I've also had a MK7 Golf GT on 17s.

Dropping an inch of the size of the wheels does make a difference but it's not huge. Softens the ride slightly but it ain't gonna fix a not very good suspension set up. Which is what the Leon FR has. I think the dampers are just cheap and not very sophisticated. It's harsh and jittery but doesn't settle at speed.

The independent rear suspension in better but to be honest it's not as critical as you might think. It doesn't make much difference to comfort or typical driving. You really only notice it when pushing the car, especially in corners. Even then I think any improvement in absolute grip is marginal. What is better is the way the car feels. The back end is more communicative and you can balance the car more easily.

I feel the same way about my car and I'm thinking about changing the dampers.
 
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Charlie Bix

Active Member
Dec 6, 2020
13
5
Angmering
We've had an SE and two FRs and used 16, 17 and 18 inch wheels. I've also had a MK7 Golf GT on 17s.

Dropping an inch of the size of the wheels does make a difference but it's not huge. Softens the ride slightly but it ain't gonna fix a not very good suspension set up. Which is what the Leon FR has. I think the dampers are just cheap and not very sophisticated. It's harsh and jittery but doesn't settle at speed.

The independent rear suspension in better but to be honest it's not as critical as you might think. It doesn't make much difference to comfort or typical driving. You really only notice it when pushing the car, especially in corners. Even then I think any improvement in absolute grip is marginal. What is better is the way the car feels. The back end is more communicative and you can balance the car more easily.

I feel the same way about my car and I'm thinking about changing the dampers.
I’ve heard similar on the MK3 Leon Facebook group that wheel size and tyres can only fix so much. Only trouble is most ‘better’ dampers do not come cheap and normally involve coilovers which would be classed as a modification in terms of warranty and insurance.

As you’ve had a golf did you find that any better? I wonder if the golf gets better shocks as insurance is unlikely to pick up on a VW part on a Seat after all.

I test drove a MK7 Golf R Line before the first lockdown which had independent rear and 18s and the ride was miles better than the Leon. Unfortunately it was a lot more expensive for the same age car so couldn’t justify it and prefer the look of the Leon.

As I’m on PCP I’d rather spend £500ish sorting the ride out and being happy with the car for the next few years than chopping the car in prematurely in the new year and losing a lot more than that!
 

SuperV8

Active Member
May 30, 2019
245
108
I’ve heard similar on the MK3 Leon Facebook group that wheel size and tyres can only fix so much. Only trouble is most ‘better’ dampers do not come cheap and normally involve coilovers which would be classed as a modification in terms of warranty and insurance.

As you’ve had a golf did you find that any better? I wonder if the golf gets better shocks as insurance is unlikely to pick up on a VW part on a Seat after all.

I test drove a MK7 Golf R Line before the first lockdown which had independent rear and 18s and the ride was miles better than the Leon. Unfortunately it was a lot more expensive for the same age car so couldn’t justify it and prefer the look of the Leon.

As I’m on PCP I’d rather spend £500ish sorting the ride out and being happy with the car for the next few years than chopping the car in prematurely in the new year and losing a lot more than that!
The front suspension on the Leon 184 and Golf GTD have bigger diameter (presume better) dampers and lighter alloy knuckles/uprights vs iron on for 150TDI and 1.4's - not sure what a front end swap would cost - trouble is - ALL these variations will have UNIQUE spring and damper combinations and the 184 Diesel and 2.0TFSI engines will weight a lot more than your 1.4 - and i'm not sure of any 1.4's which had this better front end? Maybe an A3? - and swapping out the front - without swapping the rear may also upset the balance/geometry, not to mention they have different brakes as well.

I believe the golf with independent rear sus still has cheaper front end (smaller dia shock and iron knuckle) - unless you go to the GTD/GTI etc..

The diameter of shocks is important - the larger diameter piston has more control over the suspension - whilst not being hard/crashy.

Would be much easier/cheaper to try the 17's
I think most of the people who say the ride on bigger wheels is also good - also have the better front and rear suspension -
 

Charlie Bix

Active Member
Dec 6, 2020
13
5
Angmering
The front suspension on the Leon 184 and Golf GTD have bigger diameter (presume better) dampers and lighter alloy knuckles/uprights vs iron on for 150TDI and 1.4's - not sure what a front end swap would cost - trouble is - ALL these variations will have UNIQUE spring and damper combinations and the 184 Diesel and 2.0TFSI engines will weight a lot more than your 1.4 - and i'm not sure of any 1.4's which had this better front end? Maybe an A3? - and swapping out the front - without swapping the rear may also upset the balance/geometry, not to mention they have different brakes as well.

I believe the golf with independent rear sus still has cheaper front end (smaller dia shock and iron knuckle) - unless you go to the GTD/GTI etc..

The diameter of shocks is important - the larger diameter piston has more control over the suspension - whilst not being hard/crashy.

Would be much easier/cheaper to try the 17's
I think most of the people who say the ride on bigger wheels is also good - also have the better front and rear suspension -
Should have known it wouldn’t be a simple swap, kind of why I originally thought just wack the SE springs and dampers on it. Granted still crap dampers but at least the ride isn’t as stiff.

I would have loved a 184 but couldn’t find one locally and as I said was short on time due to lockdown. Is what it is now though.

Definitely gonna try the secondhand 17inch wheel route for now (y)
 
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Jazzjames

Active Member
Sep 13, 2018
136
60
Germany
@Jazzjames interesting you don’t see much difference between wheel sizes, I do get the rubber the wheels wear does make a big difference though. The fact yours rides well on 19s amazes me and says a lot about the Goodyear tyres as the ride on mine with 18s isn’t acceptable for my daily workhorse tbh. I do get ride quality can be subjective though, is your a torsion beam model out of interest?

Quality rubber makes a huge difference. I have multilink rear end, which also helps on more challenging roads, but I doubt there's a noticeable difference around town. I also have the pressures a touch lower that the manufacturer states, as this seems to be for economy. No uneven wear to speak of.

If your car is wearing Bridgestones, it doesn't surprise me that it's unacceptable. More like brickstones. We didn't realise how bad they were until they were gone from my mum's GTD. Night and day difference. Get yourself some decent rubber. It's the easiest option. Buying second hand wheels etc. is time consuming, and if they're not straight, then you'll get wheel wobble and warning codes on the dash.

I have no doubt that a Leon with steely 15" wheels will ride the best from a comfort point of view, but I bet it rolls over on its sidewalls. Going from 18 to 17 isn't going to make any meaningful difference if you still use hard, unforgiving tyres. Changing to decent rubber will. These videos may help you decide:

UHP tyres 18":


This channel is really informative.
 
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