What are they like inside?
Both cars have generally comfortable driving positions with a good range of adjustment, although the Vauxhall Astra’s seats don’t hold you in place as well as the Seat Leon’s through corners. Vauxhall also charges £250 extra for adjustable lumbar support to aid long-distance comfort, an important feature that the Leon comes with as standard.
True, the Astras dashboard feels that bit classier, thanks to its tactile mix of soft-touch plastics and metal-effect materials. However, while the Leon’s interior is a bit dour by comparison and its air-con controls feel slightly flimsier, it has fewer buttons to get your head around.
The Leon’s 6.5in colour touchscreen (which is part of the Technology Pack that Seat throws in for free with all Leon FRs bought privately) is also fairly simple to operate, although there’s often a rather long delay between you pressing the screen and the system responding. The Astra’s 8.0in touchscreen is just as user friendly and a little bit quicker to react to commands; it's also brighter and easier to read in sunny conditions.
Taller back-seat passengers will be happy in both of these cars, but the Astra has more leg and shoulder room, and its rear seats feel altogether less claustrophobic because the taller side windows allow in more light.
The bags from a big grocery shop won’t present a problem whichever of these hatchbacks you choose; both have similarly capacious luggage areas, and while the Leon’s boot is longer, the Astra’s is slightly taller.
Annoyingly, though, both cars have big lips at their boot openings, which make loading and unloading heavy items awkward. Folding the 60/40 split rear seats in either car leaves an annoying step in the floor of the extended load bay, too.
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