New Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon vs Ford Focus: verdict

We pit the all-new Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon against the big-selling Ford Focus to see which is the best family hatchback on sale today...

Ford Focus vs Seat Leon vs Volkswagen Golf

Our verdict

Over the years, the Leon has had several oh-so-nearly moments against the Golf. It was always a fine car, but it had to rely on its lower price to even get close to Volkswagen’s perennial champion, and even then it usually came up short.

Not any more. The new Leon is, in many ways, a fundamentally better car than the Golf Mk8. It’s more fun to drive, plus it has a better infotainment system, more space in the back and, in the form tested here, a better engine.

But that doesn’t mean the Golf isn’t a jolly good car. It still sneaks ahead of the Leon for ride comfort and cruising refinement, and it’s likely to work out cheaper in the long run. It just isn’t quite the outstanding all-rounder that its predecessor unequivocally was.

Indeed, the Golf only just edges out the Focus. The latter is still a fine car and remains the class benchmark for driving fun in sporty ST-Line form. But it isn’t as dynamically brilliant in this Titanium X trim, while its interior quality and reliability record disappoint.

1st – Seat Leon

2020 Seat Leon rear studio

For Strongest pace; most composed handling; good rear seat space; well equipped; best infotainment system
Against Ride is on the firm side; pricey on PCP finance and to lease; very few optional extras available
Recommended options None

What Car? rating 5 stars out of 5

Read our full Seat Leon review >>

Find great Seat Leon deals >>

2nd – Volkswagen Golf

2020 Volkswagen Golf rear studio

For Comfiest ride; most economical; cheapest to run for private buyers; best interior quality; only one with height-adjustable boot floor
Against Noisiest engine; fiddly infotainment; least practical
Recommended options Metallic paint (£625), rear-view camera (£300)

What Car? rating 4 stars out of 5

Read our full Volkswagen Golf review >>

Find great Volkswagen Golf deals >>

3rd – Ford Focus

2020 Ford Focus rear studio

For Quietest at motorway speeds; extremely well equipped; best rear seats; playful handling; great driving position
Against Worst interior quality; disappointing reliability record; lumpy ride
Recommended options Metallic paint (£550), rear-view camera (£500)

What Car? rating 4 stars out of 5

Read our full Ford Focus >>

Find great Ford Focus deals >>

Specification: Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI 130 Style

2020 Volkswagen Golf front studio

Engine 4cyl, 1498cc, turbo, petrol
Peak power 128bhp @ 5000-6000rpm
Peak torque 148Ib ft @ 1400-4000rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
0-60mph 8.8sec
30-70mph 8.2sec
Top speed 133mph
30-0mph 11.2m
70-0mph 61.2m
Official economy 51.6mpg (WLTP)
True MPG 49.0mpg
Fuel cost per 12,000 miles £1217
CO2 emissions 124g/km

Specification: Seat Leon 1.5 TSI 150 Evo FR

2020 Seat Leon front studio

Engine 4cyl, 1498cc, turbo, petrol
Peak power 148bhp @ 5000-6000rpm
Peak torque 184Ib ft @ 1500-3500rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
0-60mph 7.7sec
30-70mph 7.5sec
Top speed 134mph
30-0mph 10.2m
70-0mph 53.4m
Official economy 48.7mpg (WLTP)
Test MPG 44.9mpg
Fuel cost per 12,000 miles £1328
CO2 emissions 132g/km

Specification: Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid 125 Titanium X Edition

2020 Ford Focus front studio

Engine 3cyl, 999cc, turbo, petrol
Peak power 123bhp @ 6000rpm
Peak torque 155Ib ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
0-60mph 9.9sec
30-70mph 9.7sec
Top speed 124mph
30-0mph 10.6m
70-0mph 57.9m
Official economy 54.3mpg (WLTP)
Test MPG 44.1mpg
Fuel cost per 12,000 miles £1352
CO2 emissions 118g/km

Cars pictured

Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost 125 Titanium X with Desert Island Blue metallic paint (£700), black part-leather trim, Convenience Pack (£500) and head-up display (£400)

Seat Leon 1.5 TSI 150 Evo FR with Nevada White paint and black cloth trim

Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI 130 Life with Atlantic Blue metallic paint (£625), Soul Maze cloth trim, Discover Navigation Pro (£1600), Winter Pack (£550) and carpet mats (£100)

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