Seat Leon

The Essentials

  • Price from £14,890
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 74.3mpg
  • What is it? The Seat Leon looks the part and is reasonably cheap to buy and run. It's a pity it isn't more comfortable.

Great

  • The Leon's designers went out on a style limb - and we love it
  • Does exactly what you want it to out on the road
  • There's room inside for a quartet of six-foot friends

Gripes

  • You'll struggle to get big bags through the boot opening
  • The windscreen pillars are hard to see past at junctions
  • Not as stylish inside as it is on the outside
  • Drive

    The Leon is a lot of fun to drive, but the ride verges on the uncomfortable

  • Inside

    Sensibly organised and allmost as stylish as some of its pricier stablemates - but not quite

  • Safety

    Excellent safety efforts: you get anti-lock brakes, high-tech driving aids and multiple airbags

  • Reliability

    It might not be the most sumptuous interior but it's built to last

  • Space

    You can squeeze in four strapping six-footers but access to the small-ish boot is awkward

  • Standard and extras

    Even the entry level feels plush but upgrade and you get treats such as a leather steering wheel, alloys and sport suspension

  • What's it like to drive?

    Most of the Leon's nuts and bolts are borrowed from the VW Golf, but the Seat has a sportier, firmer set-up. That gives its good body control for tackling twisty roads, but makes the ride a bit choppy  particularly at low speeds. The sportier FRs and Cupras are even firmer, with a ride that verges on being uncomfortable.
    The cheapest model gets a weedy 84bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine, so it's worth spending the extra on either the 103bhp 1.2 TSI or the 120bhp 1.4 TSI. Or, if you're a high-miler, the 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel will make most sense. The outrageous 237bhp Cupra and 261bhp Cupra R will appeal to hot hatch fans.

  • What's it like inside?

    Sporty seats with thick side bolsters give a comfortable and supportive driving position, and every model in the range has two-way steering wheel adjustment and a height-adjustable driver's seat. Less impressive are the thick, sweeping windscreen pillars that create large blind spots. The drab and dreary dashboard plastics also disappoint.
    There's plenty of head- and legroom for four six-footers, but that curvy styling does compromise the boot. It's no smaller than a VW Golf's, but its entrance is awkwardly shaped and there's a high load lip to negotiate.
    Entry-level S models get alloys, electric front windows, remote central locking and air-conditioning, so there's really no need to venture higher up in the range.

  • How reliable is it?

    Leon owners reported superb mechanical reliability in the latest JD Power survey, which isn't a complete surprise because most of the Seat's oily bits are borrowed from the VW Golf.
    Safety hasn't been forgotten about either, because all models are fitted with front, side and curtain airbags as well as stability control. The Leon scored the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP's crash tests, including an impressive 92% for child occupants.

  • Should I buy one?

    The Leon is attractively priced and comes with lots of standard equipment. But rivals  such as the VW Golf and Hyundai i30  are more comfortable, more refined and smarter inside. In the end, then, the Seat's biggest selling point is the way it looks.