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Seat Leon hatchback 115hp 1.0-litre review

Date: 11 May 2017   |   Author: Debbie Wood

Standard equipment: Five-inch touchscreen, electric front windows, air-con
SE Technology: Sat-nav, cruise control, 16-inch alloys, DAB radio, split-folding rear seats
Engines: Petrol: 115hp 1.0, 110hp 1.2, 125hp and 150hp 1.4, 180hp 1.8 (FR only), Diesel: 115hp 1.6, 150hp and 184hp 2.0
Trims: S, SE Dynamic, SE Technology, FR and Xcellence
Transmissions: Five- and six-speed manual, six- and seven-speed auto

When you're up against the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, as well as the formidable Volkswagen Golf, standing out from the crowd can be quite a challenge, something the stylish, but somewhat forgettable Seat Leon knows all about.

To help keep the Leon up to date with the competition, Seat has refreshed the range for 2017, adding new engines and the latest advanced kit.

Here we're driving the all-new 1.0-litre petrol option, which is available with either a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.

The Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia have both already proven that the 115hp 1.0-litre petrol with its 200Nm of torque is more than capable of hauling around a car of this size. In fact, its nippy nature and eagerness to rev makes the engine more enjoyable to drive than the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel options in the line-up, while running costs also impress.

Headline figures include 64.2mpg combined and CO2 emissions of 102g/km. The latter is the lowest figure currently in the Leon range, and there's no penalty on running costs if you opt for the DSG automatic either, but it does add £1,400 to the P11D.

The six-speed manual provides slick gearchanges and, according to official figures, it'll accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds.

These figures are impressive next to 1.0-litre powertrains in the Honda Civic and Ford Focus. Even the award-winning 1.2-litre in the outgoing Peugeot 308 can't quite compete for fuel economy or CO2.

The Leon can't beat the Astra on the whole-life costs front, but it's up there among the best in the sector, largely thanks to its 31.4% residual value and low running costs keeping pence per mile at 44.5.

On the road, the Leon is refined and composed with plenty of grip and a good overall ride. The steering is also precise and well-weighted, although lacks any real feel. Its stablemate, the VW Golf, is the better to drive of the two. However, among its Ford, Peugeot and Vauxhall rivals, the Leon is just as accomplished, if not more so.

Design-wise, little has changed from the current model, which is no bad thing as the Leon is a striking and stylish hatchback choice over more neutral rivals like the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf.

Standard equipment in this SE Technology spec (likely to be a fleet favourite) includes sat-nav, climate control, heated door mirrors, cruise control and an eight-inch touchscreen, which has been upgraded for this latest model.

Although easier to use (with most of the functions now available via the touchscreen), it's not as intuitive or modern as others in this sector, and, unfortunately, that theme continues throughout the rather bland cabin, with switch dials and controls that feel dated and clunky.

Also, disappointingly, you have to pay £150 for Apple CarPlay, where many rivals offer it as standard. 

Spain's answer to the Ford Focus always seems to get a little overlooked in this busy sector, which is a shame because the Leon offers a good all-round package in a stylish shell. We just wish it was more exciting when you're sat behind the wheel. We'd also definitely opt for the petrol - it's more fun to drive than the diesels and the costs add up too.

P11D £19,040
On sale February 2017
Residual value 31.4%
Depreciation £13,065
Fuel £4,996
Service, maintenance & repair £1,373
Cost per mile 44.5p
Fuel consumption 64.2mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 102g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month £60/£121
Boot space (min/max) 380 litres
Engine size/power 999cc/115hp


  • Good road manners
  • Lots of kit
  • Low P11D value
  • Good whole-life costs
  • Bland interior
  • Lacks driver enjoyment
  • Diesels are noisy