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

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.

SEAT Leon 2014 Road Test 

Road Test SEAT Leon ST 2014

Long-term Test SEAT Leon ST 1.6 TDI DSG

SEAT Leon 1.4 EcoTSi 150 FR Technology 2017 Road Test

SEAT Leon 2.0 TDI 150 ST XCELLENCE Technology 2017 Road Test

What does a SEAT Leon (2013) cost?

List Price from £16,020
Buy new from £11,750
Contract hire from £133.60 per month

SEAT Leon (2013): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4263–4282 mm
Width 1816–1975 mm
Height 1444–1459 mm
Wheelbase 2631–2636 mm

Full specifications

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.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the SEAT Leon (2013) like to drive?

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.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
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.

Average performance


Real MPG

28–73 mpg

MPGs submitted


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)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

I'm about to replace my SEAT Leon FR with an Arona FR - is there a big difference between them?

I'm going from a SEAT Leon FR to an Arona FR. What is the difference speed-wise, please?
This will very much depend on the spec of your old Leon FR. The 150PS Arona FR mirrors the straight-line speed of the current Leon FR, with both taking around eight seconds to cover 0-62mph. The Leon handles better, however, with its lower centre of gravity providing better stability and agility in the corners. The only issue you need to be aware of is the hesitancy issue with the 1.5 TSI engine when cold at low speeds. We ran one for six months and experienced it quite regularly, you can read our long term report, here:
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

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