Seat Leon Review

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The Seat Leon is a great all-round family car. Just be aware that the entry-level model is a huge buzzkill when compared to SE and higher-spec models.

Seat has created a sporty-looking practical car in the Leon, which delivers a fun experience out on the road. In particular, the sportier FR line is available with a 1.4 litre turbo petrol engine, which combines a stiffer suspension and steering which hugs winding roads. Unfortunately, the sacrifice that comes with getting the FR trim is the overall comfort of the car.

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Interior

The sport seats which are standard on the FR are noticeably low-set, which doesn’t marry well with the raised windscreen and windows – a visibility nightmare. Considering the rear window is also fairly raised too, the SE model is the better option for a comfier drive and is also a fair bit cheaper.

Hopping inside the Leon, and not much has changed to the cabin area. Unless you have the FR model with an eight-colour ambient lighting interior, the prominence of black plastics and lack of colour can be rather gloomy and dull.

The general mood can be overlooked given the easy use feel you get from being in the Leon’s cockpit. Whether it’s the steering-wheel which adjusts up and down, as well as in and out. Or, the lumbar support on the seats and height-adjustable front centre armrest. You’ll have to bear in mind that these features are available only on models above the entry-level S.

Infotainment and tech

What isn’t dull is the upgraded infotainment system. You’ll want to go for SE models and above for the bigger, crisper eight-inch display. It’s really simple to use with the touchscreen command, where you can sieve through DAB listings and other media at no expense of effort.

If you step up to the mid-range SE trim you get full smartphone integration through the interface, via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and even MirrorLink. Steering wheel-mounted controls house a voice control button which you can hold in and navigate the system through speech too.

ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) are plentiful on this next grade up model too. Hill hold control makes for easy starts on inclines when you’re waiting at the lights, while front assist with pedestrian detection uses sensors to detect moving objects on the road. An audio signal will sound as you approach, but automatic braking will take place if this isn’t heeded.

Practicality

As we mentioned before, the Leon is a surprisingly good practical family car, despite its sporty exterior. Inside, there are loads of storage options. These include large door bins in the front and back. A cubby to store your phone. Even a sizeable centre console and glovebox.

That’s not all. Below the front passenger seat there is a folding compartment big enough for a tablet.

As for boot space, the Leon has a 380-litre boot capacity. It comes with an adjustable boot floor as standard, which can be raised or lowered to make room for tall items such as prams, or to create a flat loading bay.

There’s an option to have the front passenger seat fold completely forward, so that extra-long items can fit in the car. Granted, the boot space is not as good as the Skoda Octavia. But for its fairly compact size it’s sufficient enough and has cool extra features to improve it.

On the road

The Leon rises to the test of the road, but it’s notably not as comfy as its Volkswagen Golf rival, even with the damped suspension on the SE model. This is because Seat installed a slightly stiffer suspension on its family car, which is even more noticeable if you opt for the FR, which is lower.

Just like the Golf, there’s a great range of engine choices for the Leon. SE models come with a choice of a 1.2 litre turbo petrol with 110bhp or 1.6 litre turbo diesel with 115bhp. The FR has the most choice with eight different engine choices – the 2.0 litre turbo diesel being the best option for long-distance driving, with maximum torque and 184bhp.

Both the SE and FR trims are also available with automatic transmission, which is fairly smooth for a more ‘budget’ car.

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