What will they cost?
The Vauxhall Astra has the cheaper brochure price, but after haggling healthy discounts (and matching our Target Prices) it's actually the Seat Leon that's slightly cheaper. Still, even after factoring in the bills you’re likely to face during three years and 36,000 miles – servicing, fuel, insurance and depreciation – there’s barely anything between these cars.
If you’re planning to buy on finance it’s a close-run thing, too. Put down a £4000 deposit and sign up to a three-year PCP deal and you’ll pay £249 a month for the Astra and £228 for the Leon. You’ll have to pay a whopping final 'balloon' if you want to own either car at the end of the agreement, although most people will choose to upgrade at this point.
Lower CO2 emissions make the Leon cheaper to run as a company car, even if you can’t persuade the dealer to throw in the £1085 Technology Pack for free – it’s something they’ll do automatically if you’re a private buyer. However, the Astra is cheaper to lease at £195 per month, compared with £253 for the Leon.
Both cars have 17in alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control and steering wheel-mounted audio controls as standard. The Astra also has automatic headlights and rain-sensitive wipers (these cost £200 on the Leon), but Seat counters with front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights and climate control.
Satellite navigation, a DAB radio, a USB socket and Bluetooth handsfree and audio streaming are included as standard on both, but the Astra comes with the excellent Apple CarPlay smartphone-syncing feature as standard, which adds £150 to the price of the Leon.
Both cars were awarded five stars when they were crash tested by Euro NCAP. However, only the Astra achieved this rating under the latest test criteria, aided by some sophisticated safety features; it will display the speed limit of the road you’re driving down, sound an alert if you wander out of your lane without indicating, and brake automatically if it senses you’re about to run into the car in front at low speed.
True, the Leon has seven airbags to the Astra's six, but Seat chearges £500 for a safety pack that includes lane-keep assist and a system that alerts you if it thinks you’re too tired to drive. Disappointingly, radar-assisted automatic emergency braking isn’t available on the Leon, even as an option.
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