Best small family car: New Car Awards 2014
The SEAT Leon is the 2014 Auto Express Small Family Car of the Year, with the Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf commended
SEAT’s success in last year’s awards was clearly no flash in the pan, because the SEAT Leon has scooped our compact family car crown once again. Over the past 12 months, this sleek hatch has seen off a host of talented newcomers to maintain its grip on the top spot. So why is it still our number one?
For starters, it looks great, with the versatile five-door, rakish SC and spacious ST estate each featuring the same distinctive blend of curves and creases. It’s just as good inside, where the combination of slick design and superb build quality helps create an upmarket ambience.
It’s spacious, too. There’s easily enough room for five adults, while the 380-litre boot matches the class leaders’. And as with all the best family hatches, the interior is packed with handy and helpful features.
The Leon’s good looks and smart cabin are backed up by a driving experience that effortlessly blends agility, comfort and refinement. It doesn’t matter whether you go for the entry-level S or firebreathing Cupra, the SEAT is fun to drive, while the wide range of petrol and diesel engines offers energetic performance.
Best of the bunch is the smooth and eager 1.2 TSI, which delivers hefty punch despite its small size. Of course, all this would count for nothing if the SEAT wasn’t easy on your wallet. Happily, the Leon stays true to the brand’s great-value roots with its attractive prices and low running costs. The frugal Ecomotive model claims an incredible 85.7mpg and emits only 87g/km, while the 1.2-litre TSI returns nearly 60mpg. Put simply, the excellent Leon is a car you can buy with your heart and your head.
SEAT Leon 1.2 TSI SE (£17,235)
It’s hard to fault the Leon’s engine line-up, but the punchy and frugal 1.2-litre TSI petrol stands out. SE spec comes with all the kit you’ll need, while the free Technology Pack upgrade brings sat-nav and LED lights.
Commended small family cars
Mazda 3 Fastback
With the four-door Mazda 3 Fastback, Mazda’s bucked the family car trend for hatches. The desirable 3’s sleek looks, low running costs and a big boot prove there’s still life in the traditional saloon format. It’s great to drive, too, while the SkyActiv diesels are smooth and frugal.
The classy Volkswagen Golf still sets the standard for quality and refinement, plus it’s good to drive and well equipped. Roomy cabin will accommodate most growing families, while there’s an engine to suit all tastes. Only the brilliance of the Leon keeps the VW off top spot.
- 1IntroductionWe reveal the best new cars on sale today in every sector of the market, plus we name our overall 2014 Car of the Year
- 2Car of the Year 2014The British-built MINI is Auto Express' Car of the Year 2014
- 3City Car of the YearThe Skoda Citigo is the 2014 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Hyundai i10 and Toyota Aygo commended
- 4Supermini of the YearThe Ford Fiesta is the 2014 Auto Express Supermini of the Year, with the Dacia Sandero and Peugeot 208 commended
- 5Premium Small Car of the YearThe MINI is the 2014 Auto Express Premium Small Car of the Year, with the Audi A1 and Citroen DS3 commended
- 6Small Family Car of the Year - currently readingThe SEAT Leon is the 2014 Auto Express Small Family Car of the Year, with the Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf commended
- 7Family Car of the Year The Mazda 6 is the 2014 Auto Express Family Car of the Year, with the Skoda Superb and Vauxhall Insignia commended
- 8Estate Car of the Year The SEAT Leon ST is the 2014 Auto Express Estate of the Year, with the BMW 5 Series and Skoda Octavia Estate commended
- 9MPV of the Year The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is the 2014 Auto Express MPV of the Year, with the Citroen C4 Picasso and SEAT Alhambra commended
- 10Crossover of the Year The Nissan Qashqai is the 2014 Auto Express Crossover of the Year, with the Citroen C4 Cactus and Mazda CX-5 commended
- 11Compact SUV of the Year The Porsche Macan is the 2014 Auto Express small SUV of the Year, with the Dacia Duster and Range Rover Evoque commended
- 12Large SUV of the Year The Hyundai Santa Fe is the 2014 Auto Express large SUV of the Year, with the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover Sport commended
- 13Pick-Up Truck of the Year The Volkswagen Amarok is the 2014 Auto Express Pick-up of the Year, with the Ford Ranger and SsangYong Korando Sport commended
- 14Hot Hatch of the Year The SEAT Leon Cupra is the 2014 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Ford Fiesta ST and VW Golf GTI commended
- 15Convertible of the Year The Audi A3 Cabriolet is the 2014 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the BMW 4 Series Convertible and Porsche 911 Cab commended