Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Leon is pitched as a better-value alternative to the Volkswagen Golf, and you should certainly be able to buy better-equipped editions of the Seat for less money than its Volkswagen stablemate. The Skoda Octavia is a competitive alternative, though. Also, if you're a cash buyer, bear in mind that the Leon’s resale value after three years is far lower than the Golf's and trails behind the Focus's and Octavia's, too. There are well-supported PCP finance deals available, so you should find competitive payments if you choose to finance your purchase that way.
The engine and gearbox line-ups promise decent running costs, with sensible fuel economy (we managed an easy 45mpg with the 1.5 TSI 130 Evo during a long motorway run) and CO2 emissions relative to the competition. Diesel models will prove the cheapest for high-mileage users to run, but the petrols are more recommendable if you don't do silly miles. For company car drivers, they can also work out cheaper on benefit-in-kind tax, because diesels incur a 4% surcharge, which ramps up the cost.
Equipment, options and extras
No Leon is short of standard equipment. Even the entry-level SE model comes with air conditioning, 16in alloy wheels, electrically operated and heated door mirrors, electric windows, cruise control and metallic paint. We've already mentioned the safety aids and infotainment features in the previous chapters, so click back for more on those.
SE Dynamic is the one to go for, though. For a still-reasonable list price, it adds privacy glass, 17in alloy wheels, sat-nav and front and rear parking sensors.
FR is the sporty choice and worth considering for upgrades such as power-folding door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers and an automatically dimming rear-view mirror. The rest of the range continues to ramp up the roster of toys, but the costs begin to escalate and we'd only consider going for them if you're certain you'll benefit.
Seat as a brand performed decently in the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey, with a mid-table finish of 15th out of 31 manufacturers. It placed above Volkswagen and Vauxhall but behind Ford, Kia, Hyundai and Skoda.
The Leon’s standard warranty is nothing special by the benchmarks of the class, such as Kia’s seven-year cover. Seat covers the car for three years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes sooner, although you can extend the cover for up to five years for a reasonable extra cost.
Safety and security
Every Leon comes with the essential feature of automatic emergency braking, with pedestrian detection included. There's not much else on the lower trim levels, though; it's only when you get to the high-level Xcellence Lux trim that the Driver Assistance Pack becomes standard. This yields lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition, a driver tiredness monitoring system and seatbelt reminders for rear seats. There's no blindspot monitoring, though – something that many of the Leon's rivals offer.
The Leon received the maximum five stars in its Euro NCAP safety tests back in 2012. The tests it was subjected to weren't as strenuous as they are now, though, so it's reasonable to say that newer cars in the class, such as the Ford Focus and Mazda 3 (which achieved five stars more recently), could offer better crash avoidance and protection.
All Leons get remote central locking and an alarm to help keep thieves at bay. Security experts at Thatcham awarded the maximum five stars for its resistance to theft, and four stars for guarding against being broken into.
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