SEAT Leon: which one should you choose?

  • Our guide to the alternative to the VW Golf
  • Find out which version suits your lifestyle
  • We pick our favourite trim for each bodystyle

The SEAT Leon is one of the UK’s best-selling cars. Based on the VW Group’s modular MQB architecture – which is shared by other cars in the group such as the Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia and Audi A3 – there’s a huge amount of versatility on offer in terms of bodystyle, powertrain options and equipment.

But with such variety in the range, there’s a baffling amount of choice. With that in mind we’ve dissected the range to enable you to make a better decision in the dealership.

SEAT Leon 5dr – from £17,700

What is it?

The five-door version of the Leon.

What it’s best at:

This is the choice for the majority of buyers, mixing practicality with low running costs and a fetching design. It’s at the heartland of the medium hatchback market, competing with the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf.

Parkers pick:

1.6 TDI Ecomotive SE

Why buy?

With its super-efficient 1.6 diesel engine and Ecomotive fuel-saving technology, this version of the Leon has fuel economy of a claimed 83mpg. You won’t reach that driving normally, but you can expect it to be more efficient than most other cars of a similar size – especially if you do a lot of motorway miles. In this lower-cost version of the Leon we think it makes more sense to pick SE specification, offering better value than FR but lots more useful kit than S, such as the clever XDS electronic differential, cruise control and a smart leather steering wheel.

Read the full review.

 

SEAT Leon SC – from £17,400

What is it?

The three-door version of the Leon.

What it’s best at:

This is the stylish pick of the range, really. With two larger doors instead of four in the 5dr hatch, it’s generally accepted that a three-door hatch is a more attractive proposition. The name SC stands for Sports Coupe, but actually its boot measures the same size as the five-door Leon’s. It is a lighter car though, and SEAT claims it’s the more agile of the pair, making it the driver’s choice.

Parkers pick:

1.4 TSI (150bhp) FR (Technology Pack)

Why buy?

There’s a lot to like about this version of the SC. It uses a clever 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 148bhp so it’s great to drive – far better than a diesel – but also features cylinder shut-off technology so it’s good on fuel and cheap to tax. You can have it with a DSG automatic gearbox, but we’d stick with the firm’s excellent six-speed manual. We’ve chosen FR trim because it’s the only specification you can have this engine with, but we suspect many buyers will go for it anyway. Since it’s more of an emotional choice than the pragmatic five-door, buyers are likely to go for higher trims. We’ve included the Technology Pack, which costs £1,085 and nets you built-in sat-nav along with DAB digital radio and LED headlights.

Read the full review.

 

SEAT Leon ST – from £19,225

What is it?

An estate model sharing many parts with the five-door, but with a larger boot.

What it’s best at:

Load-lugging. There’s a generous 587 litres of luggage space behind the rear seats, which represents a massive 207-litre improvement over the five-door hatchback. The extra boot space is thanks to a 27cm longer body, but the firm also managed to add just 45kg of extra weight during the transformation so fuel economy and tax are nearly identical.

Parkers pick:

2.0 TDI SE DSG

Why buy?

In its estate form the Leon can be a bit of a workhorse, so we’ve gone for the punchy 2-litre diesel this time. It has a higher braked towing weight than the 1.6 TDI and we’ve coupled it with the six-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox, which makes the Leon simple and smooth to drive. Once again SE spec seems to make the most sense to us here in terms of value.

Read the full SEAT Leon ST review.

 

SEAT Leon X-Perience – from £24,290

What is it?

A crossover Leon, with off-roader looks but estate underpinnings.

What it’s best at:

This is the ‘lifestyle’ approach to the Leon range. There are only two trim levels and they both feature a ride height that is 28mm higher than the normal estate, along with a 4Drive four-wheel drive system, chunkier styling and larger tyres.

Parkers pick:

2.0 TDI (184bhp) SE Technology 5d DSG

Why buy?

As a premium car, we reckon you’ll want a lot of equipment, and you can’t get more than SE Technology specification. It also features the highest-powered engine in a non-Cupra Leon, coupled to a smooth and quick-shifting DSG automatic gearbox. We’d probably go for the X-Perience-only Adventure Brown paintjob too, but we wouldn’t take the Lux pack – stick with the Alcantara seats rather than plumping for leather.

Read the full SEAT Leon X-Perience review.

 

SEAT Leon Cupra - from £27,910

What is it?

The hot hatch version of the Leon, available in three-door, five-door and ST body styles.

What it’s best at:

Going very quickly indeed. In fact, when it was launched it was claimed to be the fastest car of its type around the famed Nurburgring race track in Germany. Its 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine develops either 263bhp or 278bhp depending on version, and up front there’s a mechanical limited-slip differential on hand to put the power down onto the road.

Parkers pick:

2.0 TSI Cupra 280 Sport Coupe (Sub8 Performance Pack)

Why buy?

If you’re going to have a hot hatch, you might as well go the whole hog and opt for a three-door Cupra 280 (278bhp) with the optional Sub8 Performance Pack, which nets you bigger brakes, bigger wheels and stickier tyres. We’ve picked a slightly slower manual car though, because it’s more involving to drive.

Read the full SEAT Leon Cupra review.


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