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Used test: Ford Focus vs Seat Leon vs Volkswagen Golf costs

These are three of the best family hatchbacks on sale, and you can save a sizeable sum on each of them by buying at a couple of years old. But which is best?...

Ford Focus 2021 left tracking

Buying and owning

Costs, equipment, reliability, safety

While the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf each come in at £21,000, the Seat Leon is the most affordable car here at £19,500. What's more, it cost the least to buy when new, so there's no sign of worrying deprecation. Keep in mind that these costs relate to the engine and trim spec of our test cars. 

In terms of fuel economy, the Focus comes out on top. It has an official WLTP average of 54.3mpg. The Golf sits in second place with its average of 51.6mpg, followed by the Leon with its average of 48.7mpg. 

2020 Seat Leon side action

All three cars come handsomely equipped, with 17in alloys, climate control (front only in the Focus, front and rear in the Golf and Leon), keyless start and ambient interior lighting. The Focus and Leon add power-folding door mirrors, but the Focus alone gets keyless entry, and a heated windscreen, steering wheel and front seats. The Leon is the only one with metallic paint as standard from new, while the Golf has adaptive cruise control.

As for safety, all three come with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance. They all get LED headlights, too, although the Focus’s can’t dip automatically to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers. In crash testing, Euro NCAP awarded all three cars its maximum five-star rating. 

2020 Volkswagen Golf side action

In the latest What Car? Reliability Survey the Leon only appeared in previous-generation, petrol form – that came 10th out of 24 cars in the family car class. The Focus ranked 19th, while the Golf placed 20th, neither of which are particularly confidence inspiring. 

Seat ranked highest in the brands section of the same survey. It came 17th out of 30 manufacturers featured, in front of Volkswagen in 20th and Ford in 27th. 

With our trio all being petrol cars registered after April 2017, you'll be charged £155 per year in road tax no matter which you choose. Insurance groups range from 14 for the Focus to 18 for the Golf and Leon. Servicing should be relatively inexpensive.