Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Lots of up-to-the-minute tech available
  • Available with 8.25- or 10.0-inch touchscreen
  • Voice control for all major functions

Climb into the SEAT Leon’s cabin and you’ll notice the absence of buttons on the dashboard. It's distinctly uncluttered and minimalist. Some might think this approach will result in an easy to-use-cabin, but we think the reliance on the touchscreen infotainment screen may deter some more traditional customers.

There really are hardly any buttons at all on the centre console (see below).

SE models get a smaller 8.25-inch version of the central touchscreen, but SE Dynamic models and above get the largest 10.0-inch screen available. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard on all models, so it's very easy to sync your mobile phone with the car for streaming music and making hands-free calls.

You can change the layout of the car's digital menu by pressing the bottom left icon, but getting to grips with the infotainment's reels of icons will take a while and our evidence suggests it could prove distracting on the move. Drive modes, for example, are no longer selected by a dedicated button and the ventilation controls feel a little scattered.

Passengers adjust the volume controls for the stereo and temperature for climate control using touch-sensitive pads beneath the screen, but these are indicated by thinly coloured lines that can be difficult to see in bright sunlight and they don’t light up at night.

To change the air flow settings you must locate a menu on the touchscreen, while buttons to demist the front and rear windscreens are now bunched with the headlight switches beneath the driver’s-side air vent. That said, the SEAT Leon shares a similar layout with the Volkswagen Golf and won’t be the only one that suffers from this.

SEAT says that its updated voice recognition responds naturally and means you can converse with it in a more 'human' way. Tell the Leon that you're cold, and it will raise the temperature, for instance.

The other significant tech feature is the embedded SIM card, which keeps the car online whether it's connected to your phone or not. As well as keeping the in-built sat-nav maps up-to-date with traffic information, the car's integrated eCall service will contact the emergency services for you in the event of an accident.

There’s a large 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit screen on SE Dynamic models upwards as well, which is controlled by a collection of buttons on the steering wheel. The steering wheel itself is nice to use, without being too thick or large to hold, but the sheer number of controls can also seem intimidating at first - even if we did begin to get used to them after a week of use.

As well as showing the conventional-looking dials, the driver can switch to show a full screen of the driver assistance tech being used - with live tracking of where the road markings are (like on a Tesla) – or the sat-nav map.

All models come with two USB-C ports up front and those opting for an FR model will get two more for the rear passengers as well as wireless phone charging up front.

The view out is good thanks to windscreen pillars that aren’t too thick and the top of the dashboard being set quite low. The windows are also big, with a window line that isn’t too high, while the rear view out isn’t heavily obscured by thick rear pillars. It's an easy car to drive and see out of.

Despite being a sportier model, our SEAT Leon FR test car didn’t have black headlining, so the cabin remains quite bright.

Comfort

We’ve driven the popular FR model on 17-inch wheels and sports suspension and found the suspension to be quite firm, but it breathes well and cushions bumps far better than the previous model. Lower-spec base models ride well and we'd encourage buyers wanting a cosseting ride to shun the option of upgraded, bigger alloy wheels. 

Road noise has also improved over the previous model but you can still hear tyre roar on rougher surfaces. The engine remains hushed, but there is a little wind noise around the driver’s window and at the top of the windscreen. The standard stereo is quite punchy though and is more than capable of drowning this out.

The switch to two-cylinder mode on the 1.5-litre petrol engine is almost imperceptible now, as previous models fitted with this function would sometimes annoy by sending vibrations into the cabin and generate a low-frequency rumble in the background. The smallest 1.0-litre engine does need to be revved quite hard, and sounds a little strained at times, but tall gearing helps give the car a more relaxed gait.

When it comes to seating, it’s easy to find a comfortable position with plenty of adjustment, and side support on the FR models to hold you in place. The Leon no longer suffers from the pedals feeling like they’re slightly too close to you if you are a taller driver, which has been helped, in part, by having the steering wheel reaching out far enough now, so you can sit back a little further.

You also don’t sit too high up, with both front seats being height adjustable and the driver’s seat comes with lumbar support as standard. The choice of seat upholstery is a little cheap in our view - it's part of the SEAT trade-off, we guess, relegating the Spanish brand a little below its Audi and Volkswagen peers.

FR models come with a rear armrest, rear climate control and ambient lighting on the doors, but it’s the top-spec FR First Edition that comes with the full wraparound dash lighting.

All in all, the latest SEAT Leon is a comfortable and stylish place to sit.