What's the used Seat Leon hatchback like?
Seat named the Seat Leon after the city of the same name – and it also means 'lion' in Spanish. That's a brash title for a sensible family car, but one that fits the latest, fourth-generation model more than ever.
Launched in 2020, it’s sharp, well-rounded and efficient. It has a lot to live up to, though, because we liked the previous version of this car (the 2013-2020 Seat Leon) so much it was actually our overall What Car? Used Car of the Year a few years back.
So how does this latest version stack up? Let’s start under the bonnet. The base engine is a 1.0-litre petrol, badged 1.0 TSI 110, and you shouldn’t rule it out. It pulls well enough from low revs and doesn’t struggle to keep up with faster-moving traffic. You’ll certainly appreciate the extra punch of the 128bhp 1.5-litre petrol, badged 1.5 TSI 130, though.
For more power, there’s the 148bhp version of the same 1.5-litre engine, badged 1.5 TSI 150, and a 187bhp 2.0-litre engine, badged 2.0 TSI 190. Mild-hybrid versions of the 1.0 and 1.5 TSI are also out there, but there are no diesel options as of yet.
At the top of the range there's an eco-friendly plug-in hybrid (PHEV), creatively named the eHybrid. It uses a 1.4-litre petrol engine (shared with the Volkswagen Golf GTE) with an electric motor that bumps up the power to an impressive 201bhp.
All versions of the Seat Leon get five doors, and you can pick between relatively modest SE (or SE Dynamic) trim, the more extrovert styling and sportier driving manners of the FR versions, or a more luxury-focused Xcellence trim.
The entry-level SE trim is surprisingly well-equipped. You get 16in alloys, air conditioning, keyless start, cruise control and even metallic paint as standard. Step up to SE Dynamic and, in addition to various infotainment upgrades, buyers will also enjoy front parking sensors, larger 17in wheels and tinted rear windows.
FR trim plays to the Leon’s strengths, with its standard sports suspension making it great fun through the bends. You get more goodies than with SE Dynamic trim, too, including an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers and climate control.
Finally, we have Xcellence with its extensive list of bells and whistles. It gets 17in alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, heated front seats, a heated leather steering wheel, suede lined seats, a powered driver’s seat with memory and adjustable lumbar support, three-zone climate control, a rear-view camera and keyless start and entry. And breathe.
On the road, the Leon boasts fun driving dynamics and keen handling. It won’t rattle your fillings out and is compliant over large undulations, such as speed bumps, but it's not quite so absorbent over rough town roads or pockmarked A-roads. The FR trim’s sports suspension makes for a slightly less comfortable ride, but it’s the plug-in eHybrid versions that are the least forgiving Leons along bumpy roads. That's because the extra weight of the battery makes bigger demands of the suspension.
For a more comfortable PHEV, we’d point you towards the Skoda Octavia iV, and for a more entertaining drive, we’d recommend the Ford Focus ST-Line. That said, the Leon truly impresses with the way it drives.
Inside, the Leon’s driving position is fundamentally good, thanks to pedals that line up neatly with the seat and steering wheel, and a driver’s seat that’s comfy on long journeys and supportive through corners. The fact that all trims come with adjustable lumbar support certainly helps.
If you go for entry-level SE trim, you’ll get an 8.3in touchscreen, a DAB radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring, a seven-speaker sound system and two USB-C ports. All of the higher trim levels come with an enlarged 10in touchscreen, and add built-in sat-nav and natural voice recognition. FR models bring a couple of extra USB-C ports, too.
Interior quality is impressive, with squidgy, dense-feeling plastic on the top of the dashboard and above the armrests on the doors. Plus, the buttons on the steering wheel are nicely weighted and don’t feel at all cheap.
Space for front and rear passengers is plentiful and boot space is on par with rivals, which is to say good, but not quite on the level of the uber-practical Skoda Octavia and Scala. It’s worth noting that the e-Hybrid’s boot is smaller than that of the non-electrified Leons.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Seat Leon hatchback?
On the whole, the Leon is a solid and sensible family car, usually bought by people who look after their cars well. Check the interior for signs of wear and tear and alloys for any kerb damage.
What are the most common problems with a used Seat Leon hatchback?
As of writing, the current Seat Leon has yet to experience any recalls, though it is still relatively new. The previous generation had very few reported problems, which is promising when looking at the latest model.
Is a used Seat Leon hatchback reliable?
The current Leon finished 25th out of 29 cars in the family car class in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, which is not very encouraging.
Seat as a brand performed well, finishing in 18th place out of 32 manufacturers.
If you would like to see the full reliability list, head to the What Car? Reliability Survey pages for more information.
What used Seat Leon hatchback will I get for my budget?
Used prices for the Seat Leon begin at around £14,000 for a 2020 SE or SE Dynamic model. Engines at that price point include the 1.0 TSI 110 and 1.5 TSI 130, while the 1.5 TSI 150 and higher trim levels are likely to set you back closer to £17,000. Plug-in hybrid examples are available for around £18,000. You'll likely be spending upwards of £20,000 on a nearly new 2023 model.
Check the value of a used Leon with What Car? Valuation
How much does it cost to run a Seat Leon hatchback?
Starting with the base 1.0 TSI 110 and its 1.0-litre petrol engine, it averages 52.3mpg (according to WLTP testing). The 1.5 TSI 130, on the other hand, averages 51.4mpg, while the more powerful 1.5 TSI 150 averages 48.7mpg. The e-Hybrid is the most economical variant, with a claimed average of 235.4mpg.
Owners of petrol-powered Leons will have to pay £180 per year under current VED regulations, while hybrid examples attract a fee of £170 per year. You can find out more about road tax costs by clicking that link.
Servicing and insurance
Insurance groups are quite low, meaning the Seat Leon should be cheap to insure. In terms of servicing, if your example is less than 12 months old, you’ll receive your first two services for a fixed price for the duration of the plan: 24 monthly payments of £17.25, or you can pay in full for £414. For cars one to 15 years old, you can pay upfront for £502.80 or spread the cost from as little as £20.95 per month over 24 months.
Which used Seat Leon hatchback should I buy?
The base 1.0 TSI 110 is a great choice, offering decent performance and excellent fuel economy. If the punchier 1.5 TSI 130 weren’t available at a similar price point, it’d be our go-to. Is it worth going a step further and getting the 1.5 TSI 150? Not particularly, as the slight boost in performance isn’t entirely worth the extra cash. At that point, you might as well spring for the eHybrid if you have the money.
Our favourite Seat Leon: 1.5 130 TSI
What alternatives should I consider to a used Seat Leon hatchback?
The most obvious rival might be the car on which so much of the Seat Leon is based, the current Volkswagen Golf. Both are similarly fantastic family cars and you can’t go wrong with either. It’s worth mentioning that the Leon is more affordable – and that added value for money is not to be overlooked.
The Ford Focus has always impressed us for its practicality nearly as much as it has for its driver appeal. It’s a compelling package and one worth a good look if the Leon doesn’t quite float your boat.
Other cars that share the Leon’s underpinnings are the Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia. The A3 is a premium car that has a nicer interior and generally feels more classy. It's also significantly pricier than the Leon, so is perhaps not as much of a rival for the Leon as the Octavia. Although the Octavia is longer and more spacious than any of the other cars mentioned here, it is in more direct competition with its relation, and is good to drive and wonderfully spacious. However, it has to be said that, model for model and age for age, the Octavia isn't quite as good value as the Leon.