SEAT Leon Review

The SEAT Leon gets many of the good bits from the latest Volkswagen Golf, yet it’s cheaper to buy. But from a brand that’s supposed to be sporty, the Leon is not as fun to drive as you might hope.

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This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
With nearly 60 years of experience between them, carwow’s expert reviewers thoroughly test every car on sale on carwow, and so are perfectly placed to present you the facts and help you make that exciting decision
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • It's roomy in the back
  • Has good tech and equipment
  • Costs less than the similar VW Golf

What's not so good

  • The air-con controls are a bit fiddly
  • Boot isn't the biggest nor most practical
  • It's not quite as good as a Golf

SEAT Leon: what would you like to read next?

Overall verdict

The new SEAT Leon is a sporty-looking family car that should be on your shopping list if you’re considering the likes of a Ford Focus or Toyota Corolla.

And speaking of shopping… The SEAT Leon is a little bit like shopping at Sainsbury’s. Bear with us, here. See, the SEAT Leon, VW Golf and Audi A3 are all very similar under the skin, but they all carry very different badge kudos. The A3 is the poshest, so it’s like shopping at Waitrose, while the Golf is more along the lines of M&S. The Leon is the cheapest of the three, so it’s more like picking up your groceries at Sainsbury’s. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter where you buy your bananas, they’re all going to taste the same, aren’t they?

Still, that’s not to say the Leon looks cheap. It is a similar size to the Golf, but gets plenty of sporty details to help you tell it apart. The headlights come with similar triangular daytime-running lights to the old Leon, but the angular grille looks more like the one on the Seat Tarraco SUV. You get a chrome grille surround as standard, but FR models get a meaner-looking black trim and slightly different grille mesh.

At the side, you’ll spot plenty more creases than the VW Golf gets while at the back the SEAT Leon comes with a cool full-width brake light like the ones you’ll find on some pricier Audis and Porsches.

The SEAT Leon’s interior has an equally minimalist design to the one in the new VW Golf. There’s a free-standing touchscreen, some air vents that mirror the shape of the car’s grille and a pared-back centre console with (in automatic models) a tiny gear selector.

Pick a sportier FR model and you get colourful stitching on the seats that matches the car’s paint job while more expensive FR Sport versions add customisable mood lighting that stretches from the dashboard onto the doors.

The Leon is a really nice car, but I'd spend just a little bit extra and buy a Golf

Mat Watson
carwow expert

There are some scratchy plastic materials lower down in the cabin, but everything you will touch on a regular basis feels solid and well put together.

The same goes for the standard 8-inch infotainment system. It’s not all that special to use, but it’s pretty intuitive and gets all the important smartphone-mirroring tech as standard. Although, the optional 10-inch display is worth paying a bit extra for. It’s an all-new system for the Leon – and it’s similar to the one in, you’ve guessed it, the Golf, though the graphics aren’t quite as sharp and the menu system isn’t quite as good.

Annoyingly, you have to control the air-con through the touchscreen infotainment system, which is a bit fiddly to do when you’re driving.

Little else about the Leon is particularly awkward, though. There’s a decent amount of adjustment in the driver’s seat and steering wheel for you to get the ideal driving position. And it feels a lot more roomy in the back seats than in the old Leon – you should be able to transport three adults in the back in relative comfort. The boot isn’t the biggest or the most practical, though. If that’s important to you, take a look at the Skoda Scala.

Like the Skoda, there’s a large range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from. And like most hatchbacks, you can get a manual or automatic gearbox. Although, the auto is reserved for the 1.5-litre mild hybrid. If uber-high fuel economy is what you’re after, there’ll also be a Plug-in hybrid version along soon, too.

The best option is probably the 150hp 1.5-litre petrol – it’s smooth, punchy and still pretty economical.

Around town the SEAT Leon is dead easy to drive. The steering feels light and even the FR models, which have lower, stiffer suspension, are comfortable when you rattle over potholes or speed bumps. It’s a bit easier to manoeuvre than a VW Golf, too thanks to its tighter turning circle. What’s not great is the view out the back, which is obscured by wide rear pillars. Good thing you get parking sensors as standard, then.

On the motorway the Leon is quiet and economical, but if you were hoping that the new Leon is great fun driving down a twisty road… well you might be a bit disappointed. It’s fine… just not that exciting. If you are after excitement, the Ford Focus is still the family hatchback to go for.

So, overall the SEAT Leon is spacious, comfortable and comes with a good amount of kit. It’s just that the Golf does all that too and does it a little bit better and for not that much more money. Still, if you think the Leon is for you, check out the latest SEAT Leon deals.

What's it like inside?

The new Leon is comfortable, spacious in the back and has good tech. The infotainment isn’t quite up to the standard in the latest Golf and there are some scratchy plastics lower down in the cabin.

Next Read full interior review
Buy a new or used SEAT Leon at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £19,855 - £30,085
  • Choose your perfect car
  • Dealers come to you with their best offers
  • Compare offers and buy with confidence