Words by: Erin Baker
"Always wanted a VW Golf or Audi A3 but thought they were a bit pricey for your budget? Here’s the answer - say ‘Hola!’ to the Seat Leon, possibly the best all-rounder in the family hatchback market. Seat is part of the VW group, so the Leon shares much of the stuff under the paint with the VW Golf, but has never carried the same badge cachet. Let that be amended now with this highly desirable redesign of the Leon."
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Running costs for a SEAT Leon
Seat has always taken on the Ford Focus, VW Golf, Audi A3, Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308 and, in most cases, won the game of value for money. Residual values are strong, which has a positive knock-on effect on monthly finance pricing in a PCP deal. As long as you don’t go for the top-of-the-range version, tax and insurance groups are competitive. The entry-level SE trim has generous levels of equipment, too. The only car which does beat the Leon for value is sister brand Skoda Scala, which is an excellent option.
Reliability of a SEAT Leon
Nothing outstanding here, in either direction. Thanks to those VW underpinnings, the Leon is normally slap bang in the middle of reliability tables and customer satisfaction surveys. It offers the usual three-year/60,000-mile warranty – Toyota, Renault and Hyundai are among those offering five-year cover while Kia still leads the field here with its seven-year warranty.
Safety for a SEAT Leon
All trim levels offer lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, daytime running lights, cruise control, a tiredness recognition system, tyre-pressure monitoring and alarm and immobiliser, which feels quite generous. Pay a bit more and you’ll get the option of a driver and safety pack with the usual aids, including active cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, and more.
How comfortable is the SEAT Leon
The Leon is now offered in five-door form only, which may disappoint those looking for a sportier design, but makes life immeasurably easier if you have babies, young children or older relatives to transport in the back of the car. Thanks to that shared VW platform, the space inside, including the boot, will be familiar to any Golf owner. And it’s all pretty similar to the Focus and Astra in terms of leg and head room. Only the Skoda Octavia outranks them all in this class. If you want to maximise ride comfort, don’t option the FR’s sports suspension. Otherwise, there’s a bit of annoying road noise and transmission of rough road surfaces, but you’d need to find another £10,000 or so in the budget to refine the ride further with a more premium brand.
Features of the SEAT Leon
The SE base level is unbelievably generously equipped, and will satisfy most requirements. You get electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, which is quite rare these days and an absolute bonus. The infotainment system is set up for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there’s air-con, a leather-clad, flat-bottomed steering wheel, rear parking sensors, regenerative braking (another win) and folding boot cover. You might ask what’s left to bother with on the higher trim options? Well, you can go for rain sensing wipers, wireless phone charging and and illuminated door sills but really?
Power for a SEAT Leon
We tested the 1.5-litre petrol with 150 horsepower and a six-speed manual gearbox. What a joyous combo. Sweet-revving, nippy and keen to please on overtakes, this little workhorse disproves the need for bigger engines these days, certainly in hatchbacks, anyway. There’s also a 2.0-litre diesel and a 1.0-litre petrol but forget the diesel unless you do regular long motorway journeys, and the 1.0-litre doesn’t provide quite the oomph we want for a loaded family car. The 1.5 TSI should be good for roughly 45mpg and has a Benefit In Kind rate of 29 per cent.
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