SEAT Leon Review 2024

SEAT Leon At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The SEAT Leon offers excellent value for money. All models are well-equipped, good to drive and the interior quality if very high.

+Stylish and sporty alternative to the Volkswagen Golf. Spacious and upmarket interior. Efficient engine line-up.

-Frustrating touch-sensitive climate control buttons. Small boot. Plug-in hybrid is expensive.

New prices start from £19,855
On average it achieves 0% of the official MPG figure

The SEAT Leon is an upmarket and great-handling family hatchback. It shares its engines and platform with the Volkswagen Golf, which means it's affordable to run and good to drive. It's also practical, while its classy interior makes it a very desirable choice. Read on for our full review of the SEAT Leon hatch.

Demand for hatchbacks like the SEAT Leon, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf has been waning in recent years, with family car buyers preferring the comfort and practicality of the best SUVs. That said, we think the Leon has lots to offer car buyers who want a fun and stylish family runaround. 

Like-for-like, the Leon is a couple of grand cheaper than the equivalent Volkswagen Golf, while you can save a lot of money by looking for a pre-registered model. We've seen savings of more than £4000 available on ex-demonstrator models, with a budget of just £17,000 enough for an SE Dynamic with minimal miles on the clock. That's SEAT Ibiza or Ford Fiesta money.

Despite this, the SEAT Leon really doesn't feel like a value offering. The interior is classier than a Vauxhall Astra or Skoda Scala's, with lots of quality materials and feel-good finishes.

SEAT doesn't offer a long list of optional extras, so all Leon models are well kitted out. There's an entry-level SE model, which comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, metallic paint and an 8.25-inch media system. We'd look for an SE Dynamic, though, which adds 17-inch alloys, a 10-inch nav system and techy digital dials.

Sportier models are badged FR and FR Sport, with features like sports suspension, selectable drive modes and microsuede upholstery. The previous luxury option of the XCellence trim has been dropped, so FR Sport is now the uppermost version of the Leon unless you jump to the hot hatch Cupra Leon that's sold as a separate brand.

There's considerably more space in the cabin than the old Leon (and actually more legroom in the back than the latest Golf), while loads of adjustment in the seats means you should find it easy to get comfortable. You do sit rather low, though, which adds to the sporting vibe – just don't expect to look down on other motorists like you would in the SEAT Ateca crossover.

The hatchback's boot will be big enough for the majority of buyers but, if you're looking for your main family car, you might be better looking at the estate model.

The SEAT Leon's key appeal is found in how it drives. It might not be quite so enjoyable to chuck around as the Ford Focus, but it feels safe and assured on winding roads. There's plenty of grip, little in the way of body lean and it's more nimble than the majority of family hatchbacks.

There's a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines on offer. Most buyers will be best catered for with the 1.5-litre petrol engine, which is both economical and powerful enough for motorway runs. We rate the turbocharged 1.0-litre too, but the 2.0-litre turbodiesel only really makes sense if you cover a lot of miles and really need the most economical Leon possible.

There's also the plug-in hybrid Leon, badged the e-Hybrid with a 40-mile electric range. However, at the time of writing, SEAT has suspended sales of this model due to a global parts supply problem.

Looking for a second opinion? Read heycar's review of the SEAT Leon. You can also read their SEAT Leon Estate review as well. 

Ask Honest John

Can you suggest an alternative to the Volkswagen Golf Estate?

"I would like to buy a used Volkswagen Golf Estate but a low mileage, petrol automatic is £16,000-plus. Just outside my price range. Can you suggest one or two alternative similar cars which might fit the bill? "
Have you considered a SEAT Leon Estate? It's mechanically very similar to the Golf (with the same platform and engines) but you should find your budget goes a bit further on the used market. The same is true for the Skoda Octavia. Alternatively, a Peugeot 308 SW is a very good Golf alternative.
Answered by Andrew Brady

The infotainment in my new lease car is intermittently faulty. What are my options with the leasing company?

"I have a 2021 Seat Leon FR Sport. It was leased in April. It seems to have developed a number of faults all connected to the infotainment and SOS function. The infotainment system often hangs on a 'please wait' screen for up to 30 minutes. No amount of resetting it or restarting the car fixes it but then magically it works again. This seems to happen roughly every one journey in 10. This means I can't control basic functions like the radio or heater. I also get a message - 'SOS Error: Emergency Call Workshop!' - with a warning triangle on the dash (this seems to be a common issue across the VW Group). This happens at similar regularity and is fixed by turning the car off and waiting a few minutes. I've contacted both my local SEAT dealerships but they can't fit in for an investigation until October and even then, if the issue is present at that time, they may not be able to do anything. What are my options with the leasing company or the next steps I should take as a £27k car without a radio or heater doesn't seem acceptable. "
You should complain to the leasing company direct - they are the legal owner of the car. Tell the company the car is faulty and not of satisfactory quality. The leasing company is liable for the quality of the car. They should fix the fault within a reasonable time, replace the car if there’s a suitable like-for-like replacement available, give you a discount on your monthly payment or allow you to hand the car back and end the agreement.
Answered by Dan Powell

What small family cars would you recommend?

"My son wants a car the size of a Ford Focus or Mercedes-Benz B-Class. Which would be your first and second choice and is there a car in that group he should not buy? I would very much appreciate your guidance."
The latest Ford Focus, Kia Ceed and Mazda 3 are all good choices. There are new versions of the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia on their way this year - if your son isn't concerned about having the latest model, there are some really good pre-reg deals to be had on the outgoing cars (
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a SEAT Leon cost?