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Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 115 SE Technology review

Date: 01 December 2016   |   Author: John Mahoney

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £19,470
Key rival: Ford Focus
On sale: February 2017

Since its birth three generations ago, the stylish Seat Leon has always been a great all-rounder but it was just pipped at the post by its sibling, the Volkswagen Golf, which manages to feel a little more polished compared with its Spanish brother.

For 2017, both are set for mid-life refreshes - so could next year be the year the Seat outshines the Golf?

Unfortunately, the answer's no. While the Golf gains a comprehensive upgrade that includes a new range of lighter, more economical, class-leading engines, the Leon carries over its old range of motors, and benefits from only the mildest of facelifts. In the flesh this sees the front and rear bumpers tweaked and a new pair of headlamps added.

Tech is improved too. New safety kit like autonomous braking, which can detect pedestrians, is introduced, plus a long list of optional driver aids such as traffic jam assist, which self-drives in slow, queueing traffic. Finally, there are also new five- and eight-inch infotainment systems.


Under the Leon's bonnet, the engine range has been updated, with a new 115hp 1.0-litre turbo petrol introduced.

We stuck with the fleet favourite, the 1.6-litre diesel, which has been tweaked for 2017.

From behind the wheel the small diesel is no longer the pick of the range. It comes standard with a five-speed manual, and always feels like it needs another cog. It's noisier than we remember too, while other Leon models come with a more engaging drive overall.

At least the ride is smooth, and a 9.8-second dash to 62mph is on a par with the rest of the class.
What isn't competitive is both fuel efficiency and emissions. Post-'Dieselgate' tweaks, the updated engine produces 5hp more power, however uses 4mpg more fuel while increasing CO2 output. The Leon now trails all its rivals for personal tax and performance at the pumps as result.


The Leon is still a likeable car, though, and a handsome thing. If you don't do the miles the new, small 1.0-litre turbo is very tempting.

Residual values are up there with the rest of the competition with this version of the Leon achieving 31.3% based on three years and 60,000 miles which helps improve whole-life costs somewhat.
Although not able to compete with the Astra, the Leon's 44.6p per-mile figure stacks up well against the rest of the pack.

If the Leon came with a better range of engines and an interior that could match the Golf, we think nothing would stand a chance against one of the best-looking hatchbacks money can buy.

Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 115 SE Technology

Model price range £17,195-£26,465
Residual value 31.3%
Depreciation £13,370
Fuel £4,803
Service, maintenance and repair £1,465
Vehicle Excise Duty £40
National Insurance £1,854
Cost per mile 44.6p
Fuel consumption 70.6mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 105km (21%)
BIK 20/40% per month £68/£136
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 380 litres
Engine size/power 1,598cc/115hp


This Spanish hatch remains a fine all-rounder
  • Stylish
  • Good to drive
  • Well-equipped
  • Fine engine range
  • Updated diesel is thirstier and more taxing
  • Ride on some models too firm