The SEAT Leon is a family hatchback with such a wide range of abilities that we rate it as the best family car you can buy. While it shares mechanical underpinnings with the Skoda Octavia, Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3, the Leon's blend of style, practicality and efficiency means it's a more comprehensive package than any of these cars, while an involving driving experience seals the deal.
True, the Skoda Octavia has a larger boot, but it's not as sharp to drive or stylish to look at. An Audi A3 or Volkswagen Golf will have more badge appeal for some, but they’re both more expensive cars. In truth, the SEAT Leon is a better all-rounder than any of the competition. In fact, the worst thing we can say about the Leon is that those sleek looks mean rear visibility is slightly compromised by its wide rear roof pillars and small rear windscreen.
The Leon comes with five doors as standard. If you’re after a three-door version, then you need to look at the SEAT Leon SC, which we’ve reviewed separately. SEAT offers the car with an excellent range of petrol and diesel engines, which will be familiar to Volkswagen and Audi drivers.
If you’re after a petrol, we recommend the 123bhp 1.4-litre. This only costs about £600 more than the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol, but the extra power makes it easier to live with on a day-to-day basis. The 123bhp 1.4-litre petrol can return 58.9mpg, while a 0-62mph time of 9.1 seconds means it feels nippy and agile on the move.
If you cover more miles than most, a diesel engine is probably a better bet, and the 108bhp 1.6-litre Ecomotive is our pick here. It's smooth and quiet with enough power to get the Leon from 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds, but it's also very efficient, returning 78.5mpg. Low CO2 emissions mean you won’t pay a penny in road tax, while an 18% Benefit-in-Kind rate means it's likely to suit company car drivers, too.
The Leon is available in a range of trims, from entry-level S to sporty FR. We recommend the mid-range SE, as it comes with electric windows, alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control and air-conditioning. It's likely these’ll be all the bells and whistles you’ll need, but SEAT's optional extras are reasonably price should you want more. The only black mark against the Leon's options list is that DAB radio and sat nav only become standard on the Cupra hot hatch.
If you’re after serious thrills, the SEAT Leon Cupra has a 0-62mph time of just 5.6 seconds, and it's such a performance-orientated model that we’ve reviewed it separately.
In terms of dependability, the SEAT Leon came fourth out of 200 cars in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, with an excellent reputation for reliability and a number-one ranking for in-car technology. A full five-star rating from Euro NCAP means the Leon should be an extremely safe car, too.