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Seat Leon: Test Drive Review

Date: 24 December 2012   |   Author: Tristan Young

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £19,785
Key rival: Ford Focus

Seat is the latest of the VW Group brands to launch its new lower medium family hatch. The Leon follows the VW Golf and Audi A3, and for fleets it could be the one to go for.

Given that all are based on the same underpinnings, it's not a great surprise they're all remarkably similar to drive, while the A3 and Leon are similar visually too. The engine ranges for all three are also very alike, which means there's little difference between CO2 and mpg figures. The Leon, for instance, is offered with the same 99g/km 105hp 1.6 TDI that's in the Golf and A3, and all three cars see 74.3mpg. In Seat's case this will be the biggest seller, thanks to a 50% fleet mix overall, closely followed by the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel, which comes in at 106g/km and 68.9mpg.

The efficiency gains over the outgoing car come both from the improved engines and weight savings in the construction of the new model, which is, on average, 90kg lighter than its predecessor. This is despite the additional boot space and rear legroom.

There are, however, some important differences between the sister cars. The most obvious is in the pricing. The Seat offers better equipment at a lower price than either the VW or the Audi.

But you can see where Seat has saved some cash in the cabin. There are some surprisingly hard plastics and sharp edges, particularly on the door panels on the S and SE trim levels, and around the gear stick and cup-holders on all specs. However, there's no faulting the interior build quality, which is impressive, as is the level of refinement at motorway speeds, which equals that found in the Golf and A3.

Seat has saved money in mechanical areas too, and unlike its sister cars, the Leon range is fitted with a traditional manual handbrake rather than an electronic version.

There are further differences, although this time compared with the outgoing version. The new car is very obviously a five-door hatch, where the old car sought to hide its rear doors by disguising the handles into the window frame. This is because Seat will introduce a dedicated three-door version in mid-2013 and an estate at the end of next year.

For fleets and business car drivers the ultimate decision often comes down to whole-life costs, and early predictions show the Seat should, thanks to the lower pricing and good specification, beat rivals from outside the VW Group. And if these figures are as competitive as expected, then not only will Seat take sales from external rivals, but it will grab them from fellow VW products too.

Seat Leon 2.0 TDI 150 SE
P11D price£19,785
Model price range£15,670-£22,635
Fuel consumption68.9mpg
CO2 (tax) 106g/km (15%)
BIK 20/40% per month£49/£98
Service intervalvariable
Insurance (1-50)group 14*
Boot space min/max380/1200*litres
Engine size/power1968cc/150hp
Top speed/0-62mph134mph/8.4secs
On sale March 2013
VerdictWant a Golf but don’t
want to pay as much?
Buy the Leon


Want a Golf but don’t want to pay as much? Buy the Leon