The SEAT Leon fights off its fellow VW Group rivals to take the gold medal in one of the most competitive classes around

Well done, SEAT. Last year’s winner, the BMW 1 Series, hasn’t even made our commended list, as a raft of new models have upped the ante – and none more so than the new Leon.

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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 Octavia

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. 

Volkswagen Golf

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.

Best Compact Family Car

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