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Used test: Ford Focus Zetec S vs Seat Leon 180 FR costs

These family cars both dip their toes into hot hatch territory, and both are great value bought used, but which should you choose?...

Ford Focus used

Buying and owning

Costs, equipment, reliability, safety

New, the Ford Focus was more expensive than the Seat Leon by roughly £1000, although both cars could have been bought with a discount through our Target Price team, which would have brought that difference down to around £200. Now, the Focus is actually the cheaper car, coming in at around £12,000 while the Leon tends to demand around £1000 more. 

The Focus has lower CO2 emissions, at 127g/km as opposed to 138g/km, which will make it slightly cheaper to tax each year, although there’ll only be £10 a year in it. The Focus is also more economical in real-world driving, although not by much. It averaged 39.6mpg next to the Leon’s 37.7mpg in our True MPG tests.

Seat Leon used

According to our three-year cost calculations (completed when the cars were new), the Leon will cost you more in insurance – £2100 compared to the £1854 of the Focus. That said, the Leon costs less to service at £729, with its rival coming in at £1053.  

Both cars come with multifunction steering wheels, four electric windows, USB sockets and Bluetooth connectivity as standard.

Equipment is more generous in the Leon because it gets the Technology Pack thrown in for free from new. The pack includes an upgrade to a 6.5in colour touchscreen (from the standard 5.0in display), a DAB radio, sat-nav and LED headlights. That trumps the Focus because it can’t be had with LED lights and sat-nav would have cost its first owner £250 extra – although a DAB radio is standard.

The Leon also comes with dual-zone climate control, cruise control and front and rear parking sensors, while the Focus has manual air-con only.

Seat Leon SC

Safety also falls in the Leon’s favour. It comes with a driver’s knee airbag, and while both cars were awarded the maximum five stars from Euro NCAP for their crash protection, the Seat was rated slightly better for adult and child crash protection.

Both cars can be had with automatic emergency city braking (AEB). From new, it was a £200 option on the Ford and £515 on the Leon, but the latter also includes adaptive cruise control that can maintain a set distance from the car in front. Thatcham rates both cars equally highly for resisting theft and break-ins.

In terms of reliability, the Focus comes out on top. In our most recent What Car? Reliability Survey the Focus placed sixth out of 24 cars in the family car category, while the Leon ranked 10th. Both rankings are respectable. As a brand, Ford managed a disappointing 27th place out of 30 manufacturers in our survey, while Seat placed 17th.