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-specced editions of the Leon for less money than its VW stablemate. Seat dealers may also be more willing to offer a larger discount, although you need to bear in mind that while the Leon’s resale values after three years are no disgrace, they’re not as good as a Golf’s.
The engine and gearbox combinations in the main promise low running costs, and manual and automatic models alike deliver CO2 emissions that make company car tax competitive.
For example, the 1.0-litre petrol Ecomotive edition has the lowest CO2 emissions at 102g/km and an official government fuel economy figure of 64.2mpg, making it a tempting company car choice. If you need even better economy, the 1.6-litre diesel has an official economy figure of nearly 68.9mpg, although CO2 emissions rise to 108g/km.
Clearly, the higher-performance models, such as the 2.0 TDI 184, 1.8 TSI 180 and 2.0 TSI 300, don’t offer such efficiency, making them the priciest versions to choose.
Equipment, options and extras
The entry-level S model is a little rudimentary, with steels wheels and no DAB radio; air-con, electric door mirrors and electric front windows are the only highlights. That’s why we’d suggest bypassing it for SE Dynamic Technology – a trim designed with business users in mind, featuring 17in alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, privacy glass, driver and passenger seat-height adjustment and a leather, multi-function steering wheel with stereo controls.
However, our pick of the range is the FR Technology trim. Once again, you get snazzy 17in alloy wheels and privacy glass, but also LED headlights, power-folding door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, sports front seats (with driver and passenger lumbar adjustment) and sports suspension.
An option well worth adding is the Storage Pack, which is relatively affordable and offers the added flexibility and practicality of a double-height boot floor and storage draw under the front passenger seat. Rear parking sensors would also be worthwhile if you buy an S or SE Technology model, as well as Full Link, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring that’s optional on all versions below FR Technology.
The Leon has a solid, if unremarkable, reliability record, according to our most recent reliability survey, as has Seat as a whole: the brand finished in 21st place out of 32 manufacturers. That’s below Hyundai, Kia and sister brand Skoda, but above Volkswagen, Peugeot and Nissan.
The Leon’s standard warranty is nothing special – it covers the car for three years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes sooner. You can extend the cover for up to five years for a reasonable extra cost.
Safety and security
The Leon comes with a healthy yield of the latest safety equipment. Every model gets seven airbags, stability control and a tyre pressure monitoring system. There are also active front head restraints to minimise whiplash in an accident and Isofix child-seat mounting points.
Commendably, every Leon bar the entry-level S model comes with automatic emergency city braking, which applies maximum braking if the system detects you’re about to hit a car. From 2017, this was upgraded to watch out for pedestrians as well as cars.
Leons equipped with an automatic gearbox can take this autonomy one step further. With the optional pack that includes traffic jam assist, in heavy traffic the car is able to stop, start, speed up, slow down and even steer for you. The same package also includes emergency assist – if the system thinks you’ve nodded off, it’ll try to wake you by lightly pulsing the brakes. If that doesn’t work, it will activate the hazard warning lights and bring the car to a controlled stop.
If the worst comes to the worst, it’s good to know that back in 2012 the Leon received the maximum five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test.
All Leons get remote central locking and an alarm to help keep thieves at bay. Security experts Thatcham Research awarded the car the maximum five stars for resistance to theft and four stars for guarding against being broken into.
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