A good-value Golf hatchback in Spanish garb
- Fuel efficient with low emissions
- Strong performance from all engines
- Plenty of standard equipment
- Fine levels of interior quality
- Angular mirrors increase wind noise
- No sporty trim for less powerful models
- No shortcut buttons on touchscreen media system
- Suspension on the firm side
This is the third-generation SEAT Leon hatchback, based on the same underpinnings as the Volkswagen Golf, as well as the Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia. It comes with a firmer suspension arrangement to reinforce SEAT’s sportier aspirations for its car.
As well as its in-house rivals, the Leon faces stiff competition from the omnipresent Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, as well as the likes of the Honda Civic, Hyundai i30, Kia Ceed and Peugeot 308 among many others in this fiercely-fought segment.
Mid-life Leon refresh for 2017
SEAT made the front of the car a little bolder for 2017 with a remodelled bumper and grille, plus revised LED headlights, foglamps and indicators.
Inside the old multimedia system was replaced by an improved unit, with a 5.0- or 8.0-inch screen depending on the trim level. The larger device saw its button count fall to just two, forcing drivers to prod the screen or use the voice control functions to change settings.
The rest of the centre console was shuffled around and an electronic parking brake added, freeing up space for a larger cubby and optional wireless charging pad.
The engine range was also updated – a more powerful version of the 1.6-litre TDI diesel was added and a 115hp 1.0-litre TSI petrol unit that had previously been available in Europe made its way to the UK. Furthermore, a new upmarket Xcellence Technology trim was added at the top of the range.
The most powerful Cupra sports models, meanwhile, gained additional power – rising to 300hp – providing rapid acceleration.
SEAT Leon engine line-up
Taking full advantage of the VW Group’s cache of engines, the SEAT Leon boasts a wide range of petrol and diesel units.
The 1.0-litre TSI kicks off the six-strong turbocharged petrol range, supplemented by a 1.2-litre motor and a 1.4-litre in two states of tune, plus a 1.8-litre and the sportiest 2.0-litre Cupra versions.
There are three diesels, including the entry-level 1.6-litre and a 2.0-litre boasting two power outputs. The former comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, the larger engines have six gears, while all are available with an optional seven-speed DSG automatic.
SEAT Leon practicality
The third-generation Leon offers more practicality with a 39-litre larger boot, make a total luggage capacity of 380 litres. The wheelbase is also slightly longer to give more room for rear-seat passengers.
The SEAT Leon is also cheaper than many of its rivals, boasts plenty of standard equipment and comes with a range of fuel efficient, low CO2-emitting engines. Finance rates for the Leon also compare favourably against rivals, with low monthly payments on SEAT’s PCP offer.
The Parkers Verdict
With sharpened-up styling, upgraded engines and a plusher interior, the Leon remains a very appealing medium hatchback. Prices are competitive – whether you’re considering purchasing through PCP finance or paying cash where you’ll find large discounts available online.
Throw in a reasonable list of standard kit and a sportier drive than many in this class, and the Leon is one of the best family hatchbacks you can get.
Read our full SEAT Leon hatchback review to see why we rate it so highly.
What owners say about this car
I just bought this car and I am so happy, for the same money I could have had a previous... Read owner review
Excellent reliability. Great equipment levels and economy. Cheap to maintain, insure and tax (£30). Feels solid in all driving conditions. Read owner review
Had this car 2.5yrs now,and continues to impress.I drive 25,000 miles a year and it has never let me down. Read owner review