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New Seat Leon vs Vauxhall Astra

No longer is diesel the de facto option – both the Leon and Astra are available with efficient petrol engines, but which one is the best family hatchback?

Words ByWhat Car? team

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Seat Leon rear seats

What will they cost?

Just Β£420 separates these cars on list price, but that should rise to more than Β£1200 in favour of the Leon once you’ve haggled with the cars’ respective dealers.

Most buyers will opt for a finance deal, though, and based on a three-year personal contract purchase (PCP) deal limited to 12,000 miles a year and with a Β£3000 deposit, the two cars are closely matched. After a Β£2000 contribution towards your deposit from Vauxhall, the Astra will cost Β£244 each month, while a Β£2250 contribution from Seat means the Leon will cost Β£235. And, if you want to pay a lump sum at the end of this contract to own the car outright, the Leon remains the cheaper option.

For the smaller number of company car drivers choosing between these cars, the Leon again makes better financial sense. It’s not only cheaper on a business contract hire basis, but its lower CO2 emissions and slightly cheaper list price mean it’ll cost nearly Β£1300 less in benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax over three years for a 40% taxpayer.

It’s the same story in terms of running costs. The Leon’s lower CO2 emissions mean you’ll pay less road tax, it will be slightly cheaper to service and insure, and it will retain more of its value after three years’ ownership. We weren’t able to put either car through our True MPG fuel tests, but the Leon has the considerably better official fuel economy.

Both cars come with manual air conditioning, alloy wheels, electric windows all round, cruise control, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted controls, USB ports and one free choice of paint colour (blue). The Astra adds automatic lights and wipers, as well as LED daytime running lights and the aforementioned smartphone connectivity. However, only the Leon’s infotainment system has sat-nav.

For safety, Euro NCAP gives both cars a five-star rating, but the Leon scores better for adult and child crash protection and the Astra for pedestrian protection. That’s due in part to the Leon getting more airbags (seven rather than six), although it’s a shame it doesn’t get automatic emergency braking (AEB) as standard, unlike the Astra.

Both cars get an alarm and immobiliser as standard, and security expert Thatcham Research rates both cars as excellent at resisting being driven away and good against break-ins.

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