In association with MotorEasy
Car of the Year Awards 2022: Family Car of the Year
There are several types of family car, but here we’re looking at traditional hatchbacks: large enough to be practical, yet compact enough to be easy and enjoyable to drive...
Seat Leon 1.5 TSI 130 Evo FR
Like James Bond, a good family car needs to be able to turn its hand to just about anything, and for the second year in a row the Seat Leon does that more convincingly than anything else you’ll spy in this category.
Practicality is the first item on the Leon’s long list of attributes. It may look shorter than the rival Skoda Octavia (it’s no illusion), but there’s just as much space inside for passengers, with generous leg room for those in the rear seats, while the boot is easily large enough for all their cargo.
The 128bhp version of the VW Group’s ubiquitous 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine feels stronger and quicker than the claimed 0-62mph time suggests, pulling harder from low revs than similarly powerful units found in the Hyundai i30 and Mazda 3. And when you wind down for a relaxing journey, it’ll be very economical. With clever fuel-saving technology shutting down half the cylinders when driven gently, you don’t have to try hard to start conserving fuel, so the Leon should prove cheap to run.
You get sports suspension as standard on FR models, and that means the Leon feels keen to turn in to corners, with tight body control and plenty of grip. It’s not just more fun to drive than the closely related Octavia and Volkswagen Golf; it can also match the fine-handling BMW 1 Series for agility on a twisty road. That’s not to say comfort has been compromised; the ride is never harsh and the light pedals make this hatchback easy to drive every day and over long distances.
The smart interior uses nicer materials than the Ford Focus and is free of clutter, with very few buttons on the dash and a pair of large digital screens (for the instruments and infotainment) that are clear and easy to read. FR models are the sportiest-looking in the range, coming with chunky 17in alloy wheels, more aggressive bumpers, a choice of drive modes and sports seats that provide more side support than the standard ones.
There’s also plenty of tech, including keyless start, wireless phone charging and four USB ports to keep everyone’s devices charged up. With this level of talent for a competitive price, the Leon leaves the opposition shaken and owners stirred.