The VW Group’s latest generation of family hatchbacks has met with mixed reports in road tests this year. While the Mk8 Golf and latest Skoda Octavia managed to convince us that the group’s high standards for perceived quality are broadly on course to be upheld (albeit in cabins quite radically overhauled for control regime and layout), the Audi S3 we tested more recently struggled a little to prove it merits its premium.
With the Leon, your expectations are a little lower. We’re well used to these sporty, bargain-priced Seats representing something of a compromise on wider VW Group ambient quality standards, but compensating for it with equipment, sound ergonomic layout, space and a gently compelling driving experience. And the latest Leon does some of that – but not quite all.
The interior design does its best to make up for some quite uninspiring mouldings with a sharply drawn and quite sculptural style. The major features, from air vents to grab handles, are bold and eye-catching. It’s only by looking at them closely, and subjecting them to the touch test, that you realise many of them are surprisingly plain and hard.
At mid-level FR grade, where the Leon eHybrid opens up for business, you get Seat’s enlarged, 10.0in touchscreen infotainment system (which is mostly great to look at and, with familiarity and a few exceptions, easy enough to use) as well as fully digital instruments.
Wireless smartphone charging is standard, too, as is wireless Apple CarPlay functionality, plus wired mirroring for other formats. If you’re a younger buyer who likes digital technology, that’s likely to appeal plenty on a car that only narrowly breaches the £30k threshold. Plump for a different powertrain as a private buyer and you can have the same cabin spec, with a choice of petrol power, for under £24k.