- Stylish aesthetics
- Fun to drive
- Safest car in its class
- Not as refined as a Golf
- Boot space not the most practical
- No hybrid option
Stylish, practical family hatchback
The Seat Leon is the Spanish manufacturer’s entry into the family hatchback market. Since it was first introduced in 1999, the Leon has improved no end. The Leon is based on the same platform, and features the same engines as the Volkswagen Golf. What makes the Leon different to its close relative is its more stylish exterior, and more reasonable purchase price. It’s also efficient, spacious, and comes generously equipped. Available in three, and five-door guise, the Leon is one of the finest family hatchbacks that money can buy.
The latest third-generation Leon, introduced in 2012, features a complete redesign, with a new chassis, new styling, improved safety, and a more spacious cabin.
Smart design, spacious cabin, and generous equipment
One area in which the Leon differs from its sibling, the Volkswagen Golf, is in its interior. It’s not quite as plush as its German rival, favouring functionality over prestige. Nevertheless, there’s a good-sized boot, and even-entry level models come with plenty of kit.
The dashboard design of the Leon is much improved over the old model. It’s clean, modern, and well-laid out, but the materials used throughout aren’t as impressive as in some rivals. There are soft-touch plastics used in the majority of the cabin, but you can find some cheaper, hard materials if you go looking for them. It’s not the most ambitious design either, though controls are well-damped, and exactly where you’d expect them to be.
When it comes to storage space, the Leon isn’t the most practical car in its class, though there’s enough for most families. The 380 litre boot capacity is average for a family hatchback, but it’s still bigger than the Ford Focus (316 litres), and the Vauxhall Astra (351 litres). There’s enough space for a big family shop, and you can easily get a bulky pram in the back. The rear seats don’t fall completely flat if you want additional space however, so it’s not as practical as a Honda Civic.
Equipment levels are thankfully pretty generous in the Leon. Even the entry-level S trim comes with air-con, electric windows, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and a touch-screen infotainment system. The FR trim offers the greatest value in the range however, as it adds dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, alloy wheels, cruise control, leather steering wheel, and sportier bumpers and skirts.
The inside of the Leon is an impressive package for family buyers. The cabin is functional, spacious, and generously equipped. The boot isn’t the most practical for the class, but there’s still enough space for most families.
Fun to drive, and refined
The Seat Leon undoubtedly looks like a sporty car, so you would expect it to also drive like one. Thankfully, it does. The stiff suspension and chassis means that there’s next to no body roll, whilst there’s also lots of grip when you throw it into a corner. Steering is also nicely weighted and precise, which gives you confidence to really push the Leon when you get it out onto twisty country roads. Only the Ford Focus is a genuine rival to the Leon when it comes to driving experience, so if you’re looking for a fun car, the Leon ticks the box emphatically.
Suspension and Chassis
Whilst the stiff suspension and chassis aid driving experience, it also hinders comfort levels somewhat. It’s not as comfortable as a Skoda Octavia, or a Volkswagen Golf, but it still performs on most roads reasonably well. Go for the FR or Cupra models, and the suspension is stiffer still. Road and wind noise are quiet however, even at speed, which makes the Leon is an impressive motorway cruiser.
Gearbox options in the Leon come in three guises. The standard throughout the range is a six-speed manual transmission, that’s sharp and slick. Entry-level diesels come with a five-speed manual that’s pretty decent, though you might wish you had an extra gear on long motorway journeys. There’s also the option of an excellent DSG automatic on nearly every model, and this has received positive reviews from motoring journalists across the board.
Everything from eco-friendly, to super efficient, to breathtakingly quick
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your Leon, you’ve got the usual two options: petrol, or diesel. There’s a wide range of power outputs throughout the range, so there should be an engine suited to each buyer’s needs.
If it’s power that you want from your Leon, you should look no further than the petrol-powered 2.0 TSI Cupra. This engine produces a stonking 280bhp, and will catapult you from 0-62mph in an amazing 5.8 seconds. That’s seriously quick, and it’s one of the most powerful family hatchbacks on the market. Those who still want power, but not at an eye-watering level, should consider the diesel-powered 2.0 TDI 184 FR. This still produces 184bhp, and a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds, which is plenty quick enough for all but the staunchest of petrolheads.
Eco-friendly buyers will be delighted with the diesel-powered 1.6 TDI Ecomotive. This engine produces just 89g/km of CO2 emissions, which makes it one of the greenest cars in its class. Emissions are low enough for this model to be road tax exempt, so it’s also a great option for money-savers. This is especially the case when you consider that this model can achieve up to 83.1mpg. There are few cars in this class that offer such a great balance of fuel efficiency and green credentials.
Whichever engine you choose to go for in your Leon, you’re not going to be disappointed. All engines have enough power, and CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency are impressive throughout the range.
Full marks in NCAP safety tests, impressive safety kit as standard
Like nearly every car in its class, the Seat Leon easily achieved the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. With scores of 94% in adult safety, 92% in child safety, and 70% in pedestrian safety, the Leon is safer than every single car in its class. That’s sure to be attractive for family buyers, and things get even better when you check out the safety kit that comes as standard. Even entry-level Leons come with seven airbags, stability control, emergency brake assist, and a tyre-pressure monitoring system.
Superb value for money, if you avoid the cost of new-car depreciation
The Seat Leon is one of the best value family hatchbacks currently on sale. Not only is it slightly cheaper to buy than some rivals, it’s also cheap to run. This obviously varies from model to model, but generally speaking CO2 levels are low, which makes road tax either low-priced, or free, and fuel efficiency is similarly impressive. Only the hot-hatch Cupra model is anywhere near to being expensive.
Insurance costs in the Leon also depend on which model you choose to go for. Models throughout the range incur roughly the same costs as you’d expect from an equivalent rival however, so you won’t be paying any more than you should be. The cheapest Leon to insure in the range is the 1.2 TSI S, which is in group 12, whilst the most expensive is the range-topping 2.0 TSI Cupra 280, which is in group 33.
Depreciation is a large factor with the Seat Leon, but only if you choose to buy from new. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Seat Leon is one of the most complete family hatchbacks that money can buy. It’s stylish, spacious, and generously equipped. It might not have the refinement of a Volkswagen Golf, but it’s certainly more fun to drive. The Leon is also the safest car in its class, and impeccably good value for money, so buyers on the lookout for a family hatchback should seriously consider the excellent Seat Leon.
Buying a used Seat Leon online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Seat Leon for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used Leon. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Seat Leon online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used Seat? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Seat Leon, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used Leon, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Carspring Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Seat to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.