Review: SEAT Leon (2013)
Big improvements in quality and refinement over previous Leon. Great to drive with sharp handling. Good value. Shares same base as latest A3 and Golf.
Only top models have fully independent rear suspension.
SEAT Leon (2013): At A Glance
- New prices start from £18,990, brokers can source from £11,750
- Contract hire deals from £133.60 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 12–26
- On average it achieves 80% of the official MPG figure
This is the third generation SEAT Leon. It builds on the reputation of of the previous two generations, by being good value for money and fun to drive, but has a higher quality interior and more attention to detail. It shares up to half of its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3 and as a result uses a wide range of Volkswagen's latest petrol and diesel engines.
The Leon is available with the now familiar four-cylinder TDI and TSI units all featuring direct injection and turbocharging. The version powered by a 1.6 TDI diesel with 105PS is the cleanest model in the range (for the time being) and thanks to a start/stop system and brake energy regeneration it averages a claimed 74.3mpg with CO2 emissions at 99g/km meaning zero VED.
Out on the road, it's good to drive with sporty handling and good agility with the Leon FR getting a new SEAT Drive Profile which lets you vary the characteristics of the steering, throttle response and the engine sound via a sound actuator in the exhaust. Other new system include a drowsiness detection feature, Full Beam Assistant, which switches automatically between full and dipped beam and the ‘Heading Control’ lane-keeping assistant, which makes slight corrections to the steering to prevent the driver from crossing over lane markings.
SEAT has made big improvements inside, an area which has often been the focus of complaints on previous. The fit, finish and attention to detail as good as a Volkswagen Golf and better than many other cars in this sector. It's simple and unfussy and comes with a new 'Easy Connect' operating system, which controls the entertainment and communication function via a touch-sensitive screen.
What does a SEAT Leon (2013) cost?
SEAT Leon (2013): What's It Like Inside?
Interior quality is one area that has often let the Leon and other SEATs down, but this isn't the case with the new car. The plastics have a better look and feel to them, there's a higher attention to detail and it has much more of an upmarket feel – especially on SE spec and above. It may not be quite up to the standards set by the latest Golf, but it's certainly better than a number of its rivals. With back-lit door handles and chrome surrounds on switches on higher models, you get the feeling that Audi hasn't been a stranger at SEAT's factory just outside Barcelona.
The new Leon is 4,260mm long, around five centimetres shorter than the outgoing model, but the wheelbase is longer by almost six centimetres. This is good news for interior space, particularly for rear seat passengers and at 380 litres, the boot has increased by 40 litres, too.
It's well kitted out, too, with SEAT promising not to offer any 'stripped-out' bargain basement specials. All cars get an LCD touch-screen display that's used for the car's sound-system and on higher-spec models it adds sat nav capability.
Specification highlights include Bluetooth and air con on S, cornering lights and 16-inch alloys on SE and dual-zone climate control and SEAT Drive Profile on FR. It''s also the first car of its sort to get 'maintenance-free' LED headlamps, but this is a £995 option (or £1740 when combined with sat nav) on SE and FR models and one that's unlikely to add any value from when you come to sell - after all the standard cars still come with lights.
Standard equipment from launch:
S models come with 15-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, front electric windows, air conditioning, colour media system with CD player, Bluetooth, six speakers, remote auto controls, ESC with tyre pressure monitoring, driver and passenger airbag, front side and curtain airbags, driver's knee airbag and an alarm and remote central locking.
SE trim adds ambient interior spot lighting, a leather wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, chrome dashboard detailing, front fog lights with cornering, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, SEAT’s XDS electronic differential lock system, and hill hold control.
FR models have 17-inch alloy wheels, redesigned front and rear bumpers, twin chrome exhaust pipes, dark tinted windows, front sports seats, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, LED tail lights, sports suspension and SEAT Drive Profile. This lets the driver alter the characteristic of the power steering, giving it more or less resistance, as well as the throttle sensitivity, and in DSG-equipped cars it alters the gear shift pattern.
Options include 18-inch alloy wheels, full leather upholstery, satellite navigation, SEAT Sound System (including a boot-mounted sub-woofer), rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers and light sensing headlamps.
Child seats that fit a SEAT Leon (2013)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the SEAT Leon (2013) like to drive?
- Engines range from 1.0 TSI 115 Ecomotive to 2.0 TSI 190 DSG
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 28–73 mpg
A big tick for Leon is a broad variety of engines from launch. Golf and A3 buyers have had to wait for a wider selection of engines, but Leon customers have them from the start. Those who cover lower mileages are catered for with a 1.2-litre TSI (105PS) and a 1.4-litre TSI (140PS). Both of these turbocharged engines are cracking; willing, great around town and more powerful than their meagre outputs suggests.
SEAT has been shifting more diesels than ever over the past few years, thanks in no small part to several large fleet deals (including one with British Gas). So, it's no surprise to see a good spread of diesels. The low CO2 option at launch is the 1.6 TDI with 99g/km CO2, but this will be replaced next year with a version that goes even lower.
It cruises well on the motorway, but with its power delivered low down, it's harder work around town. Most people will opt for the 2.0 TDI with 150PS. It strikes a great balance between economy and performance and, with a wide band of power, is good fun to drive out on the open road. Economy is quoted at 68.9mpg, which sounds impressive, but it will be interesting to see if this is the case when Real MPG results start to come in.
Then there are the engines that go in the sporty FR versions - a 1.8-litre TSI (180PS) for the petrol and a 2.0-litre TDI with 184PS. Both would easily pass as hot hatches in another manufacturer's range, but this is the starting point for sporty Leons. The four-cyinder diesel is especially noteworthy for its smooth wave of power and all-round refinement. Even more powerful Cupra models are likely to put in a appearance later next year.
Out on the road, it doesn't really matter which Leon you opt for, as they're all great to drive, with light responsive steering, good body control and agile handling. The new Leon is 90kg lighter before and that shines through.
There are two suspension set ups, depending on which engine you choose. Cars with less than 148PS get a standard set-up, whereas those with more power get a fully independent system and FR-badged cars have a lowered ride height and stiffer setting for better handling.
As you'd expect, the FRs are the firmest, but the ride is surprisingly comfortable. There may be a crash here and there on uneven roads, but they generally ride well and don't feel noticeably harsher than the other models in the range.
|1.0 TSI 115||58–64 mpg||9.6–9.8 s||102–112 g/km|
|1.0 TSI 115 DSG Ecomotive||64 mpg||9.6 s||102 g/km|
|1.0 TSI 115 Ecomotive||64 mpg||-||102 g/km|
|1.2 TSI 105||58 mpg||10.2 s||114 g/km|
|1.2 TSI 105 DSG||58 mpg||10.2 s||112 g/km|
|1.2 TSI 110||57–58 mpg||9.9 s||114–116 g/km|
|1.2 TSI 110 DSG||57–58 mpg||9.9 s||112–114 g/km|
|1.2 TSI 110 Ecomotive||57 mpg||9.9 s||116 g/km|
|1.4 EcoTSI 125||54 mpg||-||120 g/km|
|1.4 EcoTSI 150||58 mpg||8.0 s||110–114 g/km|
|1.4 EcoTSI 150 DSG||58 mpg||8.0 s||109–115 g/km|
|1.4 TSI 125||44–54 mpg||9.1 s||120–124 g/km|
|1.4 TSI 140||53 mpg||8.2 s||119 g/km|
|1.5 TSI 130||55–57 mpg||9.4 s||111–116 g/km|
|1.5 TSI 150||53–55 mpg||8.2 s||117–120 g/km|
|1.5 TSI 150 DSG||54–55 mpg||8.3 s||115–117 g/km|
|1.6 TDI 105||74 mpg||10.7 s||99 g/km|
|1.6 TDI 105 DSG||72 mpg||10.7 s||102 g/km|
|1.6 TDI 110||69–79 mpg||10.5 s||87–103 g/km|
|1.6 TDI 110 DSG||71–72 mpg||10.5 s||99–102 g/km|
|1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive||71–79 mpg||10.5 s||87–94 g/km|
|1.6 TDI 115||66–71 mpg||9.8 s||105–111 g/km|
|1.6 TDI 115 DSG||67–71 mpg||9.8–10.2 s||106–109 g/km|
|1.8 TSI||47 mpg||7.5 s||138–139 g/km|
|1.8 TSI DSG||49 mpg||7.2 s||132–134 g/km|
|2.0 TDI 150||64–66 mpg||8.4–8.5 s||106–117 g/km|
|2.0 TDI 150 DSG||63–64 mpg||8.4 s||112–118 g/km|
|2.0 TDI 184||63–66 mpg||7.5 s||112–118 g/km|
|2.0 TDI 184 DSG||60–63 mpg||7.5 s||117–120 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 190 DSG||46 mpg||7.2 s||141 g/km|
Real MPG average for a SEAT Leon (2013)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the SEAT Leon (2013)?
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I'm about to replace my SEAT Leon FR with an Arona FR - is there a big difference between them?
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