2020 Seat Leon family car revealed: price, specs and release date

New Seat Leon family hatchback grows in size and sophistication and is available with the option of electric power for the first time...

2020 Seat Leon studio front

On sale: May Price from: £20,000 (est)

In the same way that Antonio Banderas grew from being a relative unknown from Spanish show business to mixing it with the best in Hollywood, the Seat Leon has steadily risen to be considered among the top tier of the family hatchback class. 

As with a prime Spanish bull, much of the Leon’s appeal comes from its lineage, because underneath it’s closely related to the Volkswagen Golf and Skoda’s Octavia and Scala – models that are no strangers to our Car of the Year Awards trophies. What has helped the Leon’s appeal over the years, too, is that it brings a dose of flair through its expressive design and emphasis on sporty handling. And while both of those elements carry through to this latest, fourth-generation Leon, they’re joined by increases in practicality, connectivity and choice of power. In short, this is Seat’s most advanced new car yet.

2020 Seat Leon rear

2020 Seat Leon dimensions, interior and space

The new Leon is significantly longer than the previous version and has more space between its front and rear axles. It’s also marginally narrower and has a lower roofline, but don’t think that means there’s less space in the boot. In fact, it’s the same as before, at 380 litres –identical to the Golf’s and more than the rival Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra offers. In the Leon ST estate, the available boot space has grown by enough to fit in an extra shopping bag.

Inside, the Leon has many of the latest Golf’s frivolities, including a 10.25in screen that replaces the instrument cluster and can show the sat-nav map right in front of you, plus a separate infotainment touchscreen, which measures up to 10.0in depending on the car’s specification. However, we haven’t been overly impressed with the Golf’s similar set-up, which prioritises flashy graphics over usability, so Seat has its work cut out here to win us over. 

2020 Seat Leon interior

2020 Seat Leon engines

For the first time, buyers will be able to choose a plug-in hybrid or mild hybrid Leon alongside conventional petrol or diesel engines. Kicking off the petrol line-up is a new 108bhp 1.0-litre engine, above which sits a pair of 1.5-litre units with 128bhp or 148bhp. Both the 1.0-litre engine and the 148bhp 1.5 can be had with mild hybrid technology, which gives the engine small amounts of electrical assistance, lowering your fuel bills a little. For drivers seeking more performance, a 187bhp 2.0-litre petrol is also available. If you’ll be covering enough miles to justify a diesel engine, there’s a choice of 113bhp and 148bhp 2.0-litre units. 

The plug-in hybrid variant of the Leon mates a 1.4-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to produce a combined 201bhp, and it can travel for up to 38 miles on electric power alone. Gearbox options across the range include a six-speed manual and six or seven-speed automatics. There will be no fully electric version of the Leon, because that space will be filled by Seat’s El-Born electric hatchback, which is due to go on sale later this year.

Hot hatchback fans can look forward to the arrival of a Cupra-badged Leon. It’s expected in late 2020 and is likely to have four-wheel drive and a power output of close to 300bhp.

2020 Seat Leon rear seats

2020 Seat Leon equipment and price

The latest Leon also features the Golf’s Car2X connected technology, so it can tell you about upcoming hazards or when the traffic lights are about to turn red. It’s always connected to the internet, too, so it can show you the latest fuel prices and real-time traffic information.

The trim line-up starts with SE, which comes with keyless entry and start, two USB connections, LED headlights and 16in alloy wheels. SE Dynamic adds a digital instrument cluster and parking sensors, while FR gets you a sporty body kit, three-zone air conditioning and wireless charging for your mobile phone. For those seeking more kit, FR Sport comes with heated front seats and 18in alloys, and range-topping Xcellence and Xcellence Lux cars get extra styling touches such as bespoke bumpers and chrome-framed side windows.

The new Leon is expected to be one of the safest cars on the road. Its suite of assistance technologies includes adaptive cruise control, which adjusts your speed to suit the road layout – slowing for roundabouts and corners, for example – plus traffic sign recognition and automatic emergency braking.

A price hike to around £20,000 is on the cards for the new Leon, making it more expensive than the Astra and Scala but cheaper than the Focus and Golf. Discounts could make the Leon significantly cheaper in time, though, given that savings of up to £5042 are possible on the current Leon if you buy through What Car? New Car Buying. If you opt for a PCP finance deal, expect to pay comfortably less than £200 per month on a four-year term.

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2020 Seat Leon boot

The best family cars 2020

Has the idea of the new Seat Leon got you thinking about shopping for a family car? If so, you'll want to know which will perform the best for you and your family, and which are more trouble than they're worth. In this next story, we've sorted the wheat from the chaff in this most competitive of classes.

10. Vauxhall Astra

Save money on a new Vauxhall Astra with What Car? >>

2019 Vauxhall Astra front

If you're looking for a spacious family car with low company car tax bills, the Astra is hugely compelling, while big discounts are available for private buyers, too. Just bear in mind that the best rivals now offer better ride comfort and more standard safety kit.

Read our full Vauxhall Astra review >>

9. Seat Leon

Save money on a new Seat Leon with What Car? >>

2019 Seat Leon front

Like its sister car, the Volkswagen Golf, the Leon handles well, has a strong range of engines and features a practical and user-friendly interior. True, some of the plastics feel rather cheap, but this is easier to forgive when you consider how well priced the Leon is.

Read our full Seat Leon review >>

Mazda 3

Although Mazda trades on a sporty reputation, the 3 doesn't get anywhere near to a Ford Focus in terms of handling. However, it's impressively refined and comes very well equipped, while interior quality is a match for prestige brands and the infotainment system is great.

Read our full Mazda 3 review >> 

7. Mercedes A-Class

Save money on a new Mercedes A-Class with What Car? >>

Mercedes A-Class

Safe, good to drive and with a truly spectacular interior, the A-Class is one of the most appealing family cars on sale today. And while the entry-level diesel (A180d) makes most sense for the majority of buyers, the more powerful A250 petrol is also worth considering. For outright comfort, though, an Audi A3 is suppler, while a BMW 1 Series is more exciting in the bends.

Read our full Mercedes A-Class review >> 

Next: see the rest of the top 10 >>