The Seat Leon is a serious contender in the family hatchback market. While big-selling cars such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra are cheaper to buy, the Leon bridges the gap between these models and far more premium offerings like the Audi A3.
We're big fans of the Leon. It's powered by a range of strong engines, offers fine handling characteristics for a car in this class and comes with the kind of practical interior that growing families will love. There's plenty of choice in the range, too, with three-door SC and estate ST versions also on sale, as well as the Leon Cupra hot hatchback.
With prices starting from £17,700, the Leon is slightly more expensive than the Volkswagen Golf on which it is based, but when you consider how much kit you're getting compared to its stablemate, the Leon represets real value for money. Seat dealers should be able to offer you significant discounts, too.
Here are 7 reasons to consider a Seat Leon.
7 reasons to buy a Seat Leon
7. Plenty of kit
Every Leon gets air conditioning, a touchscreen infotainment system and Bluetooth, but our favourite FR models come with 17in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors and sports seats.
6. Safety equipment
The Leon gets seven airbags, stability control, automatic emergency braking (AEB) and a tyre pressure-monitoring system as standard. It scored five stars on Euro NCAP's safety tests, too.
Ever since the second-generation Leon was launched in 2005, the badge has come to stand for good looks in the sometimes dull family hatchback market. The latest model is no exception – it's one of the best-looking hatches around.
4. Frugal petrol power
Our preferred enigne in the Leon range is the 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol. It's able to shut down two of its four cylinders when cruising along in order to boost fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions – and it saves you plenty of money at the pumps.
3. Flat through corners
Whichever Leon you go for, you'll get a car that remains impressively flat and stable through corners. There's huge amounts of grip on offer and its steering is nicely weighted and precise – perfect for tricky parking manoeuvres.
Every Leon gets a 5.0in touchscreen infotainment system as standard, and you can upgrade to a larger screen on SE models and above. The gesture detection doesn't work quite as well as expected, but it's certainly usable.
The Leon represents real value for money and you'll be getting a lot more equipment with your car than you would on most rivals. Most engines are economical, too, meaning money saved off your tax and fuel billls.
A family hatchback needs to be easy to see out of, but the Leon's thick rear pillars make it difficult to see out of the back. If you look closely at the interior, too, there are real signs of cost-cutting. There are some sharp edges around the seat bases and some rough plastics around the rear door handles.
What about buying used?
Like the current car, the previous Seat Leon – built between 2005 and 2012 – is based on the underpinnings of the widely successful Volkswagen Golf. That means it's fun to drive and comes with a range of economical engines from the Volkswagen Group. And, thanks to Seat's youthful design, it also looks fantastic.
Some of the most loved Leons are the hot FR versions, which could be had in either 2.0-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel forms. Luckily, and despite the best efforts of some owners, both engines can stand up to a lot of abuse. The 140bhp 2.0-litre diesel is our favourite engine overall, making especially good sense if you're planning on covering plenty of miles. If you're after a petrol version, then the 1.6-litre 101bhp unit is worth looking at.
Seat Leon models from this era can be picked up from as little as £1750, but around £4500 will get you our preferred 2.0-litre diesel engine in a car that's covered fewer than 45,000 miles.
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