The Leon is the fourth piece in the Volkswagen Group family hatch jigsaw, the one with Spanish eyes. It’s the partygoer, although whether you believe it rocks the night away or simply has an early night like its three siblings depends on how seriously you take Seat’s brand positioning.
It certainly looks the part, with its sharp creases and flowing lines. Inside, though, it’s a bit more subdued, and the quality of some out-of-the-way trim is average. Fortunately, it comes alive with a broad range of mainstream petrol and diesel engines, while beyond these are sporty 2.0-litre engines producing up to 306bhp and found in the Cupra.
The Leon arrived in 2013 atop parent company Volkswagen’s new MQB platform and bristling with driver aids and technology. The headlights were full-LED, at least on higher-spec trims – a first in the family hatch class. Three-door versions were branded SC but here we’re concerned with the more practical five-door.
Today, prices start at around £4000 for a 2014-reg 1.6 TDI with 100,000 miles in entry-level S trim. The 103bhp motor is a workmanlike affair but the mid-power 148bhp 2.0 TDI 150 is more satisfying. An 84,000-mile 2015-reg is £7400. For more poke, there’s the 181bhp 2.0 TDI 184. We found a 2014-reg FR Tech Pack with 117,000 miles for £5995.
Among the petrols, a 2014-reg 104bhp 1.2 TSI 105 with 80,000 miles is £4250. This engine is adequate for scooting around town but more demanding drivers should aim for the larger 1.4 TSIs with 122bhp and 148bhp outputs. The latter is a more appealing all-rounder than the 148bhp 2.0 TDI and our top choice.
S trim’s drab 15in steel wheels do little for the Leon’s party animal image so go for friskier SE (leather-covered steering wheel, 16in alloys and hill hold but standard suspension). FR offers a sportier feel. In addition to sports seats and sports suspension it has Drive Profile, offering steering and throttle modes.