SEAT Leon vs rivals

We test the all-new SEAT Leon against its rivals, the popular VW Golf and great-value Kia Cee'd

Competition in the family hatchback market is hotting up with the arrival of the sizzling SEAT Leon. With its head-turning looks and the promise of sharp driving dynamics, the newcomer is aiming to go straight to the top of the class.

The Leon certainly has form, as the hot FR version beat the sporty BMW 1 Series in a recent road test encounter. Now it’s the turn of the more humble 1.6 TDI SE, which SEAT claims will be the best seller.

Facing the Leon are two formidable rivals. First up is our current champion, the VW Golf. Boasting exceptional refinement, an upmarket interior and low running costs, the Golf represents the sternest test for any new arrival.

The other competitor in this test is the Kia Cee’d. The stylish five-door has come close to victory in the past and sets the standard for low running costs and a hassle-free ownership experience.

Verdict

Could this be the moment that the VW Golf is finally knocked off the top spot? The new SEAT Leon has all the raw ingredients to succeed. Not only does it look great, it offers a classy interior, plenty of space and a composed driving experience.

However, it can’t quite match the VW for refinement, comfort and premium appeal. So it’s another win for the Golf, then? Not quite. Even if you take into account its long kit list, the VW struggles to justify a £2,010 premium over the £18,490 SEAT. In 1.6 TDI SE guise, the Leon is a very desirable family car. Even if you add a few choice options, it undercuts the Golf, while low running costs and excellent residuals help seal the deal. It’s a worthy winner.

Unfortunately, the closely fought battle between the SEAT and VW means the Kia ends this test in third place. The Cee’d shouldn’t be overlooked, though, because it’s an attractive, spacious and refined choice, while the current £1,000 discount makes it great value.

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