In-depth reviews

SEAT Leon review

The SEAT Leon offers the tech and driving experience of the VW Golf, but for a lower price

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Improved passenger space
  • Impressive digital tech
  • Good to drive
  • Not exciting to look at
  • Not inspiring to drive
  • Average boot space

Although it feels like an evolution of the old model, the fourth-generation SEAT Leon narrows the gap between it and the Volkswagen Golf. It doesn’t have quite the same wow factor as its more expensive rival, but it’s just as good to drive and features the latest digital technology.

Just as important is the fact that there’s significantly more rear space than before, which means it’s perfect for growing families. The boot is a little small for the class, but the Leon Estate is a practical alternative to the Skoda Octavia.

The Golf is more likely to impress your neighbours, and the Ford Focus is nicer to drive, but you’re unlikely to be disappointed with the new Leon.

About the SEAT Leon

The Leon has been a cornerstone of the SEAT range since 1999, when it replaced the Mk2 VW Golf-based Toledo. Since then, SEAT has shifted 2.2 million Leons globally, including around 250,000 in the UK.

The Mk4 Leon is the most advanced and safest version to date. Launched in 2020, it replaced a model that had been on sale since 2012. Like its predecessors, it’s based on the same platform as the VW Golf, which means it’s also closely related to the Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia.

It sits above the Ibiza in the SEAT range, battling for showroom space against SEAT’s trio of SUVs: Arona, Ateca and Tarraco. There’s no three-door version, but a performance version is available in the form of the Cupra Leon.

For the first time, the Leon is available as a plug-in hybrid, with the e-Hybrid offering extremely low running costs and between 36 and 40 miles of pure electric range. There’s also a range of petrol and diesel engines, some with mild-hybrid technology, along with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic gearboxes.

The five-door hatchback will account for the majority of sales, but a Leon Estate is also available. The latter is the one to choose if you’re after something practical, because the hatchback’s 380-litre boot is a little on the small side. The Leon Estate offers 620 litres of luggage space. In both cases, the e-Hybrid’s battery pack robs the Leon of boot space.

There are five core trim levels: SE, SE Dynamic, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and Xcellence Plus. Standard specification is high, with even SE cars offering 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and rear lights, metallic paint, 8.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, DAB digital radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rear parking sensors and cruise control.

Other models get a more impressive 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a 10.25-inch customisable SEAT Digital Cockpit. FR and FR Sport models feature lowered and stiffer suspension for a sportier feel, while Xcellence and Xcellence Plus models offer more luxury.

Leon hatchback prices start from around £20,000 for the SE 1.0 TSI Evo, rising to around £30,000 for the Xcellence Lux 1.5 eTSI DSG. Leon Estate prices range from close to £23,000 for the SE 1.5 TSI Evo, rising to around £30,000 for the FR Sport 1.5 eTSI DSG.

Rivals include the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, Mazda 3, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, but the Leon also competes against cars such as the Kia Ceed and Hyundai i30, both of which offer longer warranties. In isolation, the SEAT Leon is a good car, but it’s more of an evolution than a revolution.

More on Leon

New SEAT Leon Estate 2020 review
SEAT Leon ST
3 Dec 2020

New SEAT Leon Estate 2020 review

We find out if the new SEAT Leon Estate is as attractive as the hatchback
New SEAT Leon e-Hybrid 2020 review
SEAT Leon
6 Nov 2020

New SEAT Leon e-Hybrid 2020 review

The new SEAT Leon e-Hybrid brings plug-in power to the hatchback's range for the first time
New 2020 SEAT Leon: PHEV model to cost from £30,970
SEAT Leon - front
SEAT Leon
12 Oct 2020

New 2020 SEAT Leon: PHEV model to cost from £30,970

The fourth-generation SEAT Leon now boasts a plug-in eHybrid option, which is available in the UK from just under £31k
SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus
Family hatchbacks
11 Jul 2020

SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus

The Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon are all long established hatchbacks - we find out which is best among the latest crop
New SEAT Leon 2020 review
SEAT Leon
25 Jun 2020

New SEAT Leon 2020 review

We sample the new fourth-generation SEAT Leon hatch on British roads for the first time
SEAT Leon (2012-2020) review
SEAT Leon - Front Cornering
SEAT Leon Hatchback
7 Apr 2020

SEAT Leon (2012-2020) review

The SEAT Leon is one of the best family hatchbacks on sale, blending style, practicality and excellent dynamics
"New Leon marks a solid start for SEAT's future"
OPINION SEAT Leon
SEAT Leon
29 Jan 2020

"New Leon marks a solid start for SEAT's future"

The new fourth-generation SEAT Leon hatchback marks a solid start for SEAT going forward, believes John McIIroy
Vauxhall Astra vs Ford Focus vs SEAT Leon
Vauxhall Astra triple test
Vauxhall Astra
12 Oct 2019

Vauxhall Astra vs Ford Focus vs SEAT Leon

The Vauxhall Astra has beaten the Ford Focus and SEAT Leon before, can it do it again?
New SEAT Leon Cupra R ST ABT 2019 review
SEAT Leon Cupra R ST ABT - front tracking
SEAT Leon Cupra
30 Jul 2019

New SEAT Leon Cupra R ST ABT 2019 review

Tuning company ABT has given the SEAT Leon Cupra R ST even more power - we find out what it's like on the road
SEAT Leon Cupra review
seat leon cupra r st tracking front quarter
SEAT Leon Cupra
15 May 2019

SEAT Leon Cupra review

Breathtaking pace and everyday practicality make the SEAT Leon Cupra a formidable, if low-key, hot hatch
New SEAT Leon Cupra R ST 2019 review
SEAT Leon Cupra R ST - front tracking
SEAT Leon ST Cupra
14 Mar 2019

New SEAT Leon Cupra R ST 2019 review

It's a case of identity crisis with the new SEAT Leon Cupra R ST, which claims to be both a SEAT and a Cupra at the same time
SEAT announces 365bhp Leon Cupra R ST
seat leon cupra r st tracking front quarter
SEAT Leon ST Cupra
13 Mar 2019

SEAT announces 365bhp Leon Cupra R ST

The Spanish car manufacturer will offer a factory tuning upgrade for the limited edition Leon Cupra R ST, adding an extra 69bhp
New SEAT Leon ST Cupra 300 Carbon Edition 2018 review
SEAT Leon ST Cupra 300 Carbon Edition - front
SEAT Leon ST Cupra
23 Aug 2018

New SEAT Leon ST Cupra 300 Carbon Edition 2018 review

If you’re after a fast estate car the SEAT Leon ST Cupra is a top choice, but fewer than 50 of this limited run are UK-bound
SEAT Leon Cupra - best hot hatchbacks
SEAT Leon Cupra 300 2017 - front cornering
SEAT Leon Hatchback
30 Jul 2018

SEAT Leon Cupra - best hot hatchbacks

Constant development keeps the SEAT Leon Cupra in contention among fierce hot hatch competition
New SEAT Leon ST Cupra Carbon Edition unveiled
SEAT Leon ST Cupra Carbon Edition - rear
SEAT Leon ST Cupra
27 Jul 2018

New SEAT Leon ST Cupra Carbon Edition unveiled

SEAT has revealed the limited Leon ST Cupra Carbon Edition, with fewer than 50 units heading to the UK
SEAT Leon Cupra gets new name and loses power
SEAT Leon Cupra 300 2017 - front cornering 2
SEAT Leon Cupra
28 Jun 2018

SEAT Leon Cupra gets new name and loses power

SEAT's Cupra 300 becomes Cupra 290 as new WLTP emissions and economy test regime sees power cut by 10bhp
SEAT Leon FR review
SEAT Leon Hatchback
14 May 2018

SEAT Leon FR review

Fun and frugal SEAT Leon FR TDI diesel warm hatchback arrives in Britain
New SEAT Leon Cupra R 2018 review
SEAT Leon Cupra R - front action
SEAT Leon Cupra
26 Mar 2018

New SEAT Leon Cupra R 2018 review

Limited-run SEAT Leon Cupra R ups the ante with 306bhp, but is that enough to topple the best cars in the class?
Hot SEAT Leon Cupra R ST estate on show at Geneva
SEAT Leon Cupra R ST - front
SEAT Leon ST Cupra
7 Mar 2018

Hot SEAT Leon Cupra R ST estate on show at Geneva

The new 296bhp SEAT Leon Cupra R ST estate has made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show
SEAT Leon ST review
SEAT Leon ST - front
SEAT Leon ST
12 Jan 2018

SEAT Leon ST review

The SEAT Leon ST estate joins the hatchback and SC in the Leon line-up, bringing practicality, sharp handling and style
SEAT Leon Cupra R is now sold out in UK
SEAT Leon Cupra R frankfurt
SEAT Leon
4 Jan 2018

SEAT Leon Cupra R is now sold out in UK

SEAT announces that all 24 UK-bound examples of its hottest model ever, the 306bhp Leon Cupra R, have now been allocated
SEAT Leon Cupra R 2017 review
SEAT Leon Cupra R - front
SEAT Leon Cupra
27 Nov 2017

SEAT Leon Cupra R 2017 review

The SEAT Leon Cupra has been given yet another power boost, but this time the changes are more than skin deep
SEAT Leon Cristobal previews new tech to keep an eye on young drivers
SEAT Leon Cristobal - front
SEAT Leon
14 Nov 2017

SEAT Leon Cristobal previews new tech to keep an eye on young drivers

The Smart City Expo in Barcelona was chosen by SEAT for the reveal of the Leon Cristobal which points to the future of car safety