Our Cars: SEAT Leon SC FR 1.4 TSI

10 February 2014: All aboard

The Details

Current mileage 3136
Claimed economy 54.3mpg
Actual economy 46.4mpg

Our SEAT Leon is an SC – or Sport Coupe – model. That’s a fancy way of saying it has three doors instead of five – so how practical is it in comparison to the bigger five door and the ST estate? Well if you’re concerned about getting your shopping in then don’t be – it’s fine.

Indeed, the boot in the SC is precisely the same size as the boot in the five-door model at 380 litres. That’s the same size as the Volkswagen Golf too, so it’s bigger than both the Ford Focus and the Vauxhall Astra. It’s plenty big enough for trips to the local recyling centre dump or camping trips.

The only way in which the Leon SC really loses out is in the amount of space for rear seat passengers. It’s not so much head room or knee room that’s the problem – although it is a bit tight back there – it’s more the getting in and out. This is something that’ll be familiar to anyone who has ever owned a three-door car, but it’s an issue that’s getting a little more prevalent in modern cars.

Traditionally cars had tiny seat backs that took up no room at all and weighed very little, so you could fold them much further forward – and you could do it without too much exertion. Furthermore, thanks to a distinct lack of side impact protection there wasn’t much to obstruct access to the back row.


There's the same amount of boot space as in the five-door.

Now, care of improvements to safety equipment and quality, it’s much harder to get in and out of the back row of a car in a dignified manner – although on balance I think I’d rather have a safer car that’s a bit tricky to get into than a really unsafe one that's easy access. In the Leon's defence it's a problem with all modern three-doors.

Thankfully the Leon doesn’t fall into another common three-door car trap – the seats, once folded forward to let someone in, will return to their original position with one shove. Rather irritatingly many three door cars don’t have that function - the seats simply stop on their runners wherever you release them. It’s something that irritated me about my previous Hyundai i30.

To be fair it’s rare that I ever need to carry anyone in the back row, but many small families will pick a three door if their children are old enough to go without a car seat. For them, the Leon will be fine – my 14-year-old sister was quite content and had more than enough space.

So if you’re wondering about which will suit you the most, then it comes down to your usage. If you have a child or teenager who can fold themselves into the back row then the Leon SC is fine – it looks better than the five-door and it’s a bit cheaper. You won’t lose any boot space, so the only reason to pick the five-door is if you carry adult passengers a lot, or if you have a child seat to get in and out. 

« Earlier: Maximising fuel economy     Later: Are you not infotained? »

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10 February 2014: All aboard
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