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SEAT Leon Review

SEAT Leon
SEAT Leon
SEAT Leon
SEAT Leon
SEAT Leon
SEAT Leon
SEAT Leon
SEAT Leon
SEAT Leon
SEAT Leon
SEAT Leon

1/10

SEAT Leon

2/10

SEAT Leon

3/10

SEAT Leon

4/10

SEAT Leon

5/10

SEAT Leon

6/10

SEAT Leon

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SEAT Leon

8/10

SEAT Leon

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SEAT Leon

10/10

1 / 10

heycar review

      Launch year
      2020
      Body type
      Family hatch
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel, PHEV
Andy Brady

Written by

Andy Brady

00/10
heycar rating
Sporty alternative to a Golf

Best bits

  • Wide range of refined petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines
  • Interior is stylish and loaded with standard equipment
  • Easy and enjoyable to drive

Not so great

  • Ride comfort is on the firm side
  • Not as practical as a Skoda Octavia
  • Annoying touch-sensitive climate control buttons

Read by

SEAT Leon exterior dynamic blue

Overall verdict

SEAT Leon interior dashboard

On the inside

SEAT Leon exterior dynamic blue

Driving

SEAT Leon exterior dynamic blue

How much does it cost to run

SEAT Leon exterior dynamic blue

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict on the SEAT Leon

"The SEAT Leon is a stylish family hatch that will appeal to buyers looking for something a little sportier than a Volkswagen Golf. It's great to drive, comes with a wide range of efficient engines and the interior is leagues ahead of the old model."

SEAT Leon exterior dynamic blue

While it might seem that the entire world wants a crossover SUV, the humble SEAT Leon-sized family hatch remains a really good choice if you don't need a huge amount of practicality and just want something that'll get you from A to B in comfort. Cars like the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 really deserve to sell in bigger numbers than they do – and the same could be said for the SEAT Leon.


It shares its mechanicals with the latest Volkswagen Golf, meaning you can choose from a number of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines. The majority of buyers will go for the 1.5-litre petrol, which is efficient yet eager enough to cope with out-of-town driving. A number of engines (those paired with automatic gearboxes and sporting 'eTSI' badges) come with mild-hybrid technology. That doesn't mean a great deal in the real world, apart from slightly improved fuel economy.


If you really want a true hybrid, you'll need the Leon e-Hybrid. This is actually a plug-in hybrid, meaning you'll have to charge it regularly to make the most of it (just like an electric car). Unlike an EV though, it has the back up of a 1.4-litre petrol engine, for those times when you wish to travel further than its 40-mile electric range.


All SEAT Leon models are good to drive - slightly tauter than a Golf and competing with the likes of the Mazda 3 and Ford Focus in terms of driving dynamics. You sit low down, which adds to the sporting feel, while the suspension is noticeably on the firm side. It's not uncomfortable, though, providing you avoid FR-spec models with their sports suspension. These are a bit eager to pass bumps into the cabin, especially if you also buy one with 18-inch alloy wheels.


Inside, even low-spec Leon models feel surprisingly posh. There's a lot of chrome, while the toggle gear selector on DSG automatic models is a neat touch. Most models come with ambient lighting, which looks pretty swish, but we're not so keen on the wraparound lighting which is a little distracting when driving in the dark (although you can reduce the brightness). Fortunately, this is only available on select trim levels.


There's more space inside than before, with loads of room for tall drivers to get comfortable (helped by plenty of adjustment in the driver's seat and steering wheel). An extended wheelbase compared to the old Leon means there's a decent amount of room in the back, but the boot isn't anything to write home about. If writing home about boots if your thing, you'd be better looking at the Skoda Octavia or even the estate version of the Leon.


The best thing about the Leon is the value for money it offers. It doesn't feel like a budget offering – and it isn't, not really – yet you can pick up as-new examples for considerably under list price. An ex-demonstrator model can be picked up for the price of a Ford Fiesta, and SEAT's 'no options' policy means all trim levels are well-equipped.


If you're looking for the estate version, you need our SEAT Leon Estate review.

Is the SEAT Leon right for you?

If you want a stylish hatchback that's a bit of a left-field choice, the SEAT Leon could be a really solid purchase. It's stylish, fairly spacious, cheap to run and great to drive.

What's the best SEAT Leon model/engine to choose?

While there's a range of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines available, the majority of buyers will be well catered for with one of the petrol units. We rate the entry-level 1.0-litre unit, but you might want the extra power of the 1.5 if you regularly drive out of town. In terms of trim level, none are particularly poorly equipped. The SE Dynamic strikes a sweet spot of value for money and standard equipment – a 10-inch nav system is standard, as well as 17-inch alloy wheels and parking sensors. It does without the firm suspension of FR models, though.

What other cars are similar to the SEAT Leon?

There are lots of very good family hatchbacks on the market that are worthy of your attention. For a start, the Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia share engines and other mechanical bits with the Leon, so should definitely be on your shortlist. Then there's the uber-popular Ford Focus which, like the Leon, is brilliant to drive.


We'd also chuck the slightly left-field Mazda 3 into the mix for its superb interior. Then there's the excellent Toyota Corolla, which is sold as a conventional hybrid model. You could also look at premium alternatives like the BMW 1 Series, Mercedes A-Class and Audi A3 – or crossover SUVs like the SEAT Ateca, Peugeot 3008 and Kia Sportage.

Learn more

SEAT Leon interior dashboard

On the inside

SEAT Leon exterior dynamic blue

Driving

SEAT Leon exterior dynamic blue

How much does it cost to run

SEAT Leon exterior dynamic blue

Prices, versions and specification

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Is the SEAT Leon a good car?

Yes, the SEAT Leon's an excellent family hatch that competes with the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. It's fun to drive, has a superb interior and a wide range of very efficient engines.

Andy Brady

Answered by

Andy Brady

Is the SEAT Leon the same as the Volkswagen Golf?

The SEAT Leon shares a platform and engines with the Volkswagen Golf. While it's very similar, it definitely has its own unique style. It's arguably a more stylish and sporty choice than the Golf, with a more youthful image.

Russ Campbell

Answered by

Russ Campbell

Is the SEAT Leon better than the Ibiza?

The SEAT Leon is bigger than the Ibiza, competing with cars like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. The SEAT Ibiza is a small hatchback that rivals the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. Which one is better depends on your requirements – they're both very good at what they set out to do.

Georgia Petrie

Answered by

Georgia Petrie

What is a SEAT Leon FR?

The SEAT Leon FR is the sporty model in the Leon line-up. Standard equipment includes sports suspension, bespoke bumpers and 17-inch alloy wheels. The SEAT Leon FR Sport builds on this with 18-inch alloy wheels, Microsuede upholstery and heated front seats.

David Ross

Answered by

David Ross

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