Review

SEAT Leon hatchback

Price  £17,700 - £24,695

SEAT Leon hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • High-quality interior
  • Stylish design
  • Cheap to run
Cons
  • High boot lip
  • Poor rear visibility
  • Some rivals have bigger boots

At a glance

Our Pick
1.4 TSI 125 SE 5dr £18,300
The greenest
1.6 TDI ecomotive SE 5dr £20,390
The cheapest
1.2 TSI 110 SE 5dr £17,700
The fastest
2.0 TDI 184PS FR 5dr £23,345
Top of the range
2.0 TDI 184PS FR DSG 5dr £24,695

“The SEAT Leon is a great all-rounder, combining stylish looks and a great driving experience with cheap running costs, a good value purchase price and impressive practicality.”

As SEAT is part of the Volkswagen Group, the SEAT Leon uses many of the same mechanical parts as the Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia and Audi A3. That's some pretty exalted company, so you’d expect the Leon to pretty good. 

And you’d be right – it's excellent. Not only is it cheaper than both the Golf and A3, but it still feels very high-quality, as well as looking pretty sharp. 

Of course, as a family hatchback, the Leon has to be practical and it manages this with aplomb. The only car in the class that it really lags behind in terms of interior and boot space is the Skoda Octavia – which trounces everything else in those respects.

Our only real gripe is that the Leon's angular styling makes for very wide rear roof pillars and a small rear screen, which compromises visibility out the back. 

Under the bonnet, there's a fantastic choice of petrol and diesel engines, all of which offer a great balance between performance and fuel economy. If you’re after a petrol, we’d recommend the 108bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder. 

It's smooth and feels much more powerful than its output suggests, while it should be pretty cheap to run, too. It’ll return nearly 58mpg and emits just 114g/km of CO2 for an annual road-tax bill of just £30. Go for one of these in mid-level SE trim with a manual gearbox and you should be very happy. 

Company-car buyers, or those expecting to do plenty of miles are likely to go for a diesel and the best option here is the 108bhp 1.6-litre. Smooth and powerful, it’ll also return 74.3mpg and emits less than 100g/km of CO2. This means no road tax for private buyers and a Benefit-in-Kind company-car tax rate of just 17%. Again, SE trim with slick-shifting manual transmission is our pick. 

All versions of the Leon come pretty well equipped, with things like a colour touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth phone connectivity, voice control, air-conditioning and electric front seats all standard. 

If you upgrade to our favourite SE trim, however, then you get alloy wheels, front foglights and cruise control. Our only grumble is that you have to go all the way up to the Cupra hot hatch before you get sat nav and DAB digital radio as standard. 

In terms of safety, there are no concerns, either, with plenty of standard safety equipment. This is reflected by Euro NCAP's maximum five-star rating for the Leon.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.5 / 5

The entire SEAT Leon engine range is frugal and smooth, although the 1.6-litre TDI diesel is the one to choose for spectacular economy figures

Engines, drive & performance

4.6 / 5

Every SEAT Leon has plenty of power to match its style – it’s easily the best Leon yet to drive

Interior & comfort

4 / 5

The SEAT Leon has a pretty comfortable ride and a well put-together interior, both of which help to increase its appeal

Practicality & boot space

4.1 / 5

Bigger boot and improved access make the SEAT Leon a better family car than ever

Reliability & safety

4.2 / 5

The stylish looks of the SEAT Leon are underpinned by proven VW Group technology and impressive reliability

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 4 reviews
5 / 5
"The SEAT Leon is one of the best, if not the best, family hatchback blending style, practicality and an excellent drive."
4 / 5
"It's a great return to form for the Leon badge, and yet another serious contender in the small family hatchback market."
8 / 10
"The Seat Leon appeals to the heart with its sharp looks and sporty driving experience, but you can also buy it with your head, thanks to its affordability, practicality and safety."
6 / 10
"We're not quite sure how VW allowed it, but Seat has produced a genuine rival to the Golf here..."
What owners say 
4.1697368421053
4.2 /5 based on 304 reviews
64%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
22 Dec 2015
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