Richard Bremner
4 December 2012

What is it?

It may be the cheapest model in the range, and a keenly priced base version at that, but this third-generation Leon can crack 62mph in 10 seconds dead, return a claimed 57.6mpg and cruise motorways as quietly as cars costing £10,000 more.

What is it like?

A wheelbase stretch, a 90kg cut from its kerb weight, cleaner aerodynamics, more rear headroom and a bigger boot are useful advances, too, as is a new, better-looking cabin that’s fashioned from higher-grade materials. The only downside is that our S-trim car looks monochromatically dour even against a still-lacklustre SE trim.

But this mild disappointment is hardly a deal breaker, especially when you discover that even this starter model provides air-con and Bluetooth as standard, along with a colour multimedia screen, seven airbags and remote stereo controls. Add optional alloy wheels and you’re away.

Leons of 150bhp or less sit on a torsion beam rear axle, and over a savagely uneven road the Leon serves impressive directional stability, good body control and a feeling of terrific robustness. Sharper bumps are absorbed less well but it rarely turns uncomfortable. The steering is light and far from feelsome, but its accuracy and consistent weighting allow easy exploitation of tidy if unremarkable handling.

Should I buy one?

All of which adds up to an appealing budget package, especially with that willing turbo 1.2 to drive behind, in a car that has been usefully improved in almost every direction.

Seat Leon 1.2 S

Price: £15,670; 0-62mph: 10.0sec; Top speed: 119mph; Economy: 57.6mpg (combined); CO2: 114g/km; Kerb weight: 1198kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1197cc, turbo, petrol; Power: 104bhp at 4500-5500rpm; Torque: 129lb ft at 1400-4000rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate


More info?

1 year 46 weeks ago

Have you guys actually driven this? As the first road test of a VAG MQB chassis car with Torsion Beam rear suspension it would be interesting to hear more details about the handling and whether its significantly impaired compared to cars with Multilink. Also has it been confirmed yet that the 1.2 TSI has switched to EA211 and is cambelt driven instead of chain?

A Golf in Seat's clothing

1 year 46 weeks ago

Seats have traditionally struggled in interior designs. That does not surprise me. However the Spanish(-Germanic) brand does somehow get the exterior eye-catching especially given the fact that after all it's just a Golf in Seat's clothing.

I suppose the 1.2 TSI is 105bhp. The fact that it can propel the car 0-62mph in 10 seconds flat makes it an interesting proposition despite the dour interior. That sounds good for a car costing around £15,000. 57mpg is optimistic though. Emissions are cleaner than most competition too. Equipment sounds okay too. I am concerned about the ride though. Most Seat's traditionally offer hard to harsh ride. It's a mix bag. Not a bad package over all.


Hybrid is future


1 year 46 weeks ago

Grey's a great colour for this test mule as I can't think of a duller looking car. On the looks front you might as well buy the old version and put new headlights on the differences appear so small between the two.  £16,000 wasted


Hydrogen cars just went POP


Not the bottom spec...

1 year 46 weeks ago

fadyady wrote:

I suppose the 1.2 TSI is 105bhp. ...

According to the base 1.2 is 86PS. No doubt an article correction is due unless SEAT are abandoning the low-end...

I think this car looks fine.

1 year 45 weeks ago

I think this car looks fine. I don't think the basic versions of the Golf wil look any more interesting.

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Our Verdict


Seat's third-generation Leon is attractive and capable, but it can't quite match the best this class can offer

Driven this week