The SEAT Leon fights off its fellow VW Group rivals to take the gold medal in one of the most competitive classes around
We knew the SEAT would look the part, but we weren’t prepared for the depth of its talents – it combines all the best bits of its rivals.
Desirable looks? Check. Practical interior? Check. Low running costs? Of course. Fun? Oh yes. That’s right: the new Leon has kept its key selling point as the most stylish car in the class, while improving elsewhere.
There’s a sporty three-door version for the first time (an ST estate will follow later this year) and the same strong engine line-up as the VW Golf.
In fact, the VW Group has secured a lock-out, with its three mainstream brands fighting for victory. The Golf is the all-rounder and the Skoda Octavia is the sensible bet, so what does the SEAT have that’s missing from its rivals?
With head-turning looks and engaging handling, plus hi-tech touches, it gives up little to its rivals in the way of prestige or practicality. So why wouldn’t you choose the SEAT? It does everything the competition can, but with added fun and style – a rare commodity in this crowded class.
Our choice: 1.6 TDI SE (£18,490) The Leon comes with a range of impressive petrol and diesel engines, but the 1.6-litre TDI is very hard to beat, thanks to potential fuel economy of 74.3mpg. The SE specification level includes the most important standard equipment you’ll need.
Skoda knows all about winning trophies at our New Car Awards, and the latest Octavia came close to another. If you want a spacious and practical family car, this is it. Conservative design and uninspiring handling cost it victory.
The Golf continues to evolve, and the latest is the best yet. It has all bases covered, from the frugal BlueMotion to the hot GTI. The only problem is that some of its rivals offer a similar package at more attractive prices.
- 1Introduction18 class winners, 36 commended cars, 8 Special Awards and the 2013 Auto Express Car of the Year – it's all here
- 2Car of the YearThe most coveted accolade in the world of motoring goes to the SEAT Leon
- 3Best City CarThe Skoda Citigo retains its Best City Car crown thanks to a combination of comfort, low running costs and superb on-road ability
- 4Best SuperminiThe Ford Fiesta wrestles its way back onto the top of the podium after last year's loss to the 208
- 5Best Compact Family Car - currently readingThe SEAT Leon fights off its fellow VW Group rivals to take the gold medal in one of the most competitive classes around
- 6Best Family CarThe new Mazda 6 sees of all-comers to take family car class honours
- 7Best Estate CarOffering peerless practicality, huge value for money and attractive lines, the Skoda Octavia is the best Estate on the market
- 8Best Five-Seat MPVFord's innovative small MPV pips its big brother – the C-MAX – to the Best Five-seat MPV award
- 9Best MPVFor the third year in a row, the SEAT Alhambra wins the Auto Express Best MPV award
- 10Best CrossoverThe Mazda CX-5 is a talented all-rounder that offers everything you could want from a crossover
- 11Best Compact SUVThe Range Rover Evoque is one of the most striking cars on the road – but it's also more than just a pretty face
- 12Best Large SUVThe talented Santa Fe is one of the best models Hyundai has ever produced
- 13Best Hot HatchThe Ford Fiesta ST is in a class of its own – and better value for money than its key rivals
- 14Best CoupeThe brilliant Porsche Cayman pips its big brother - the 911 – and three-time winner the Peugeot RCZ to the Best Coupe prize
- 15Best RoadsterThe new Porsche Boxster is so good it makes you question why anyone would every buy a 911
- 16Best ConvertibleWith funky looks, premium quality and low running costs – frivolity has never been so sensible. Or so desirable
- 17Best Pick-upWith decent handling, comfort levels and build quality, the VW Amarok is a cut above its rivals
- 18Best Compact Executive CarThe 3 Series continues its undisputed reign as king of the compact executive class
- 19Best Executive CarBMW 5 Series fends off some impressive German rivals to take the executive class crown
- 20Best Luxury CarAs a 4x4, an SUV and a luxury car, the Range Rover is jack of all trades. But it's a master of all trades, too
- 21Performance Car of the YearThe entertaining GT 86 outguns a host of big-name sports cars to take Performance Car of the Year
- 22Design Award The latest incarnation of the iconic Range Rover is voted by Auto Express readers as the best designed car of 2013
- 23Green AwardThe Vauxhall Ampera's innovative range-extending powertrain wins it our Green Award
- 24Van of the YearOur Van of the Year is hi-tech, practical and the first van in its class to get a five-star crash test rating
- 25Safety AwardThe Volvo V40 is probably the safest car ever made, and a worthy winner of our Safety Award
- 26Driver Power AwardThe Japanese premium brand has reclaimed its Driver Power top spot for the first time in four years
- 27Hall of FameBMW board member inducted into the Auto Express Hall of Fame