This is a much underrated vehicle that deserves more attention. At one stage SEAT would have been the pariah of the Volkswagen Group, but the Leon was the vehicle that really showed that SEAT are better than ever. The vehicle is stylish, comfortable and more affordable than the Golf, but at the same time it is made up of much of the same stuff. The Leon is available as a three-door Coupé, a five door hatchback, a sports tourer, a four wheel drive (we cover the X-Perience separately), and for those of you who love the thrill of extra brake horse power there is the very fun and very powerful Leon CUPRA.
The two main engines on offer at the moment is the 1.2 TSI Petrol unit. This offer 85 bhp and a maximum torque of 160Nm at between 1,400 and 3,500rpm. This machine will take you from 0-100 km/h in 11.8 seconds. Every body-type is available with this engine. The diesel is a 1.6 TDI engine that offers 90 bhp, a maximum torque of 230Nm at between 1,400 and 2,750rpm, and 0-100 km/h in 12.6 seconds. This engine is not available in the three-door SC option. If you opt for the sporty FR trim in any of these body types you will find that there is 2.0 TDI engine available with two outputs – 150 bhp or 184 bhp. We’ve tested the 150 bhp engine and it is a solid performer.
The Leon CUPRA is a thrilling car with an engine that will bring you from 0-100 km/h in 5.9 seconds. This 2.0 litre TSI engine offers 280 bhp and maximum torque of 350 Nm at between 1,700 and 5,600rpm. It has a maximum speed of 250 km/h.
The Leon and the Golf sit on the same platform and with that there is a certain amount of comfort in knowing that the handling end of things should be safe enough. The steering is well weighted, but it lacks a small bit of feedback on corners. The car doesn’t suffer from body roll. The CUPRA offers sharp handling and the ride is at its firmest.
The Leon suffers a bit from wind noise due to the shape of the wing mirrors. The petrol engines are very refined and are not too audible. The diesels are a little louder but it’s nothing to be too concerned about. Overall, the Leon is a well-padded and refined vehicle.
The interior of the Leon is very comfortable and nicely kitted out. The Infotainment system is easy to use and driver focused. The plastics do not at all feel cheap. The driver’s seat is easily adjusted as is the steering wheel.
In 2012 the Leon received a full five stars in the Euro NCAP. It received excellent results for both adult and child safety scoring 94% and 92% respectively. It even scored well for pedestrian safety with 70%. The Leon is surrounded by airbags and it comes available with a tiredness recognition system, ISOFIX anchorage points, and traffic sign recognition.
There is a wide variety of body styles available with the SEAT Leon and all of them offer excellent space in the cabin. The ST version offers excellent boot space at 587 litres.