In-depth reviews

SEAT Leon review - Engines, performance & drive

The Leon delivers excellent ride comfort and sharp steering, with excellent pace from the plug-in hybrid model

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.5 out of 5

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

The SEAT Leon is supposedly the sportier version of the Volkswagen Golf, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference. It actually feels much like the old Leon, which is no bad thing.

It has a tighter turning circle than the Golf, which comes in handy when parking, and although visibility out of the back isn’t great, all versions come with rear parking sensors as standard.

On the move, the steering is sharp and direct, while the suspension does a great job of dealing with Britain’s pockmarked roads. The FR features lower and stiffer suspension, but there isn’t a noticeable drop off in terms of ride comfort. As is always the case, avoid the larger alloy wheels if you’re after the most comfortable ride.

FR and FR Sport models feature four different driving modes: Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual. This tweaks the throttle response and, on DSG (automatic gearbox) models, alters the gear ratios. Sport mode certainly feels slightly sportier, but Eco mode creates a driving experience that’s akin to swimming through treacle.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed 

There are two turbocharged petrol engines: a 1.0-litre TSI Evo and a 1.5-litre TSI Evo. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine produces 109bhp and is ideal for drivers who spend most of their time in the city. It’ll hit 62mph in 10.9 seconds with the manual gearbox or 10.8 seconds with the DSG automatic. Top speed is 122mph and 119mph respectively.

The 1.5-litre petrol puts out 128bhp or 148bhp, with the more powerful version available with a seven-speed DSG transmission. This engine offers the smoothness of a petrol engine with the economy of a diesel. Aside from the plug-in hybrid, it’s also the most rapid, with the 148bhp version hitting 62mph in 8.7 seconds, increasing to 9.4 seconds in the 128bhp version. Pair it with a DSG transmission and it’s marginally quicker to 62mph. Top speed is 135mph for the more powerful version, but 129mph for the lower-powered edition.

The 2.0-litre TDI produces 113bhp and will complete the 0-62mph sprint in 10.2 seconds before hitting a top speed of 124mph. The 1.4 e-Hybrid is the quickest of the bunch, with a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 137mph.

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