Aggregated reviews, user reviews, videos, photos and stats
- Smart looks
- Roomy interior
- Fun to drive
- Slightly noisy 1.6 TDI
- Wind noise
- Firm ride
The SEAT Leon has always offered a tempting combination of Volkswagen Golf practicality, frugality and performance, with a lashing of extra styling pizzazz.
SEAT fans will be pleased to learn that the new Leon continues this trend. It benefits from all the attributes of the new Volkswagen Group MQB platform - such as lower weight and greater interior volume - and even steals the limelight from its VW cousin thanks to flowing styling and keen pricing. If you've already got the Golf on your shortlist, it might be worth taking a look at its Spanish equivalent.
Quality has taken several steps up inside over the old car. It's a more sophisticated design than before - perhaps better even than the Golf's dour cabin - and testers note the sort of quality, ergonomics and versatility that put more expensive cars to shame. Several mention the improved plastics, with soft-touch surfaces and plenty of gloss black and chrome detailing.
There’s far more room than in the previous model and a wide range of seat adjustments means that pretty much any driver can get comfortable. You can fit two adults in the back - plus a third, if they're small enough not to mind the cramped middle pew - and there's decent leg and headrom. The boot takes 380 litres of luggage - just like its Golf and Audi A3 cousins - though a few drivers note that the boot lip is a little high.
VW’s new Golf has been attracting the plaudits for the way it drives, and the Leon is no different. The experts note an increase in ride comfort ovver the old model, regardless of the trim level. Some cars use sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, others a cheaper torsion beam, but both offer a supple, yet sporty feel.
Some reviewers say the Leon can fidget over bumps, but rarely is it uncomfortable. Opinions are mixed on the steering - some say it lacks feel, while others describe it as “light but super direct”. One recurring complaint is wind noise, caused by those stylish looking wing mirrors. That issue aside, the Leon is generally pretty refined. Driving it is easy enough too with light controls, though rear visibility is hampered by the stylish design - that rear pillar is pretty thick and the belt line fairly high.
Most buyers should find an engine they're happy with in the Leon range. On the petrol side, things kick off with a 1.2-litre TSI, rise through 1.4 TSI and 1.8 TSIs, and culminate in the rapid 2.0 TSI Cupra - pumping out almost 280 horses, and sneaking in at under 6 seconds to 60 mph.
The 1.8 TSI hasn't been reviewed yet, but both the 1.2 and 1.4-litre units earn plenty of praise. Both are smooth and willing, and testers appreciate the refinement. Despite the small capacity, the 1.2 still slings you to 60 in ten seconds, and the car's light weight aids a 57.6 combined MPG figure. The 1.4 offers even better performance and slightly lower mid-fifties economy.
Diesel Leons have always been strong sellers and the 1.6 TDI and 2.0 TDI variants continue that trend. Most efficient is the 1.6 TDI Ecomotive, at 85.6 mpg. While frugal, several testers suggest private buyers would be better off with a regular 1.6 TDI. Real-world economy won't be much lower but it's almost a grand cheaper to buy and still nets you free VED. The 1.6 isn't that refined in any guise, though. The 2.0 TDI is quieter and smoother, and in FR form it's pretty brisk - 7.5 seconds to 60 is possible. At 67 mpg and with band B VED, it won't be that tough to run, either.
Value for money
Whichever model you choose, the Leon offers pretty good value. It’s cheaper than the equivalent Golf for a start, and provided you choose an engine suitable for your needs then you’ll be spending your money wisely.
The 1.2 is described as a fine budget choice, and should suit lower-mileage drivers. Both petrols offer good economy, perhaps reducing the need to go diesel, and if you plan on sticking to town driving, with lower miles, it's likely to cost you less even over longer terms. 1.6 TDIs are a good choice for those pinching the pennies, though Ecomotive models are disappointingly expensive. As ever, the top-end 2.0 TDI offers a compelling mix of economy and performance and Cupra petrols are about as fast as you'll find for the money.
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Some testers suggest the Leon could actually be the pick of the class right now, particularly the hot hatch-like FR 2.0 TDI. Those 2.0 TDI models get the highest wowscores of any engine in the Leon range, so they're well worth a look.
FR models are sportier to drive, thanks to lowered and stiffened suspension, but this does also bring a harder ride. It's worth noting that 1.2 TSI models and 1.6 TDIs also have less sophisticated suspension than more expensive Leons, so you may find these are a little harsher over rough surfaces. No Leon is exactly uncomfortable, though.
The Leon has gone from being an acceptable choice in the family car class to one of the best, and much of that can be put down to the new platform, shared with the Volkswagen Golf.
Quality, driveability and interior space have all taken leaps forward, making the new Leon a car that small families should seriously consider. The styling isn’t quite as flowing and distinctive as before, but the car itself is a vast improvement.
- Price range:
- £16,115 - £30,890
- 42 - 85
- Safety rating (NCAP):
- Date released:
- Replacement due:
- Not for many years
- Model history:
- This is the 3rd generation Leon, codenamed the 5F. It's based on the same Volkswagen Group MQB platform you'll find under the VW Golf, Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia, among others
- Engine to go for:
- The 1.6 TDI is set to be the best seller. It's quick enough, very economical but is a little noisy
- Engine naming:
- TDI engines are diesels, TSI are petrols
The new Leon is a very good car indeed - you can read our thoughts on it here
- 8.2 out of 10 from 19 reviews
SEAT Leon User Reviews
Well, what can I say. We tested a lot of different cars in this sector leading up to choosing the Leon in white. It has come on leaps and bounds from the previous model and in our opinion bats away any competition. We chose the top spec model with everything included except the sunroof and sub woofer system. The 18in performance alloys on the car look awesome and road comfort and noise isn't too bad at all. I couldn't really notice much difference between that and stock 17s. Overall when comparing it to the A3/1 series/Guilietta/Golf it really stands out in my opinion and truly looks even better in reality than in the pics.
It's true that below 1750rpm the car lacks juice but not so much that you feel you're going to struggle getting off the line! As it happens, I find it better when stop starting around town centres as it's easier to drive in traffic. However, in 2nd/3rd/4th gears in particular, from 1750rpm it's brilliant and punchy. Handling is crisp and direct, even the lane assist is useful rather than irritating on long trips. The full LED lights are very impressive and if you go for the auto option as we did it's again taking the ball ache out of driving! I personally haven't found anyone flashing me but they do light up the road better than any other car I've driven past on the motorway at night. I mainly leave it in the Sports drive profile as it's feedback is better through the steering wheel along with throttle response. It cruises so well and mpg seems to be very consistent at around 50-60 regardless of driving style. Typically getting around 600-625 miles to the tank. Trust me, take this out if you're considering one of the cars mentioned above as you won't regret it. Although, I quite like being one of the only ones on the road, so actually... it's really bad! :)
- By Tom, who owns this car
Brief but detailed review of the new Leon
The usual in-depth review from CarBuyer
Which? Magazine test the new Leon. Find out what they think of how it drives, the ride and how it compares to the Golf. They test the 1.4 TSI.
AutoExpress get their hands on the new SEAT Leon. They give their views on the styling, interior and how it drives. Model tested is the 2.0 TDI 184 FR
Official video from SEAT showing the highlights of the new Leon.