From £14,7008
Three-door 'coupé' version of the Leon gets an extra dose of style and sophistication

Our Verdict

Seat Leon 5dr hatch

Seat's third-generation Leon is attractive and capable, but it can't quite reach the benchmark set by the imperious Volkswagen Golf

What is it?

Not just a three-door version of Seat’s Leon hatchback, the SC – that’s sports coupé – has undergone subtle styling changes to give it more presence on the road. It’s also shrunk to the tune of 35mm over the five-door model. 

Five engines power the range – a 1.2 and 1.8-litre TSI covering the petrol contingent and a 1.6 and 2.0-litre offering diesel alternatives. The 2.0-litre diesel, the highest powered in the range for now, comes in either 147bhp or 181bhp guise.

The 1.2-litre TSI sampled here, then, is the baby of the range. It’s still putting out 104bhp, though, indicative of Seat’s wish to portray the SC as a sporty, youthful alternative to the VW Golf and its rivals.

What's it like?

In a word, fun. Seat is very keen to use it’s new marketing slogan ‘Enjoyneering’ at every opportunity, but in the new Leon SC it’s easy to see why. German engineering meets Spanish flair, and the combination means an engaging and energetic driving experience.

The engine never feels underpowered, despite its small displacement, and pulls well through most of the rev range. There’s one or two flat spots lower down, but for the most part the 129lb ft of torque on offer is delivered cleanly and efficiently.

Our test car was coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox, though a seven-speed DSG automatic is also available as an option. The manual unit is well refined with no vibration through the stick. Changes are short and snappy, and gear ratios feel well spaced.

As with most electronically assisted units there isn’t much feel to the steering, but what starts off as a light experience in an urban environment quickly firms up on the motorway.

Inside, the Leon SC offers a comfortable and ergonomic environment with supportive seating throughout. In SE trim – thought to be the most popular option – the interior benefits from a height-adjustable front armrest and cruise control. Both are real bonuses to the experience of the SC and are worth the extra money. Seat’s integrated satellite navigation and infotainment system –available as an option - continue to shine, too.

Should I buy one?

That will depend on whether you think the Leon can match the current class king, the VW Golf. The Spanish hatch has made progress, for sure, but to my mind it’s still some way off challenging for hatchback supremacy.

That said, it’s hard to ignore the qualities of the Leon SC, and its styling and sense of purpose especially are very endearing characters. The 1.6-litre diesel is currently tipped to be the biggest seller in the range, but with a combined 57.6mpg the 1.2 TSI is hard to overlook as a fast and frugal option.

Seat Leon SC 1.2 TSI

Price £16,635; 0-62mph 10.2secs; Top speed 119mph; Economy 57.6mpg; CO2 114g/km; Kerb weight 1189kg; Engine 4 cyls, turbocharged, petrol; Power104bhp at 4500-5500rpm; Torque 129lb ft at 1400-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
16

26 July 2013

A good reason to buy one is the fact you can get one with a 1.8 TSI engine something, the last time I looked, you can't do with the Golf as VW wan't you to spend a premium on GTI when 95% of time a 1.8 would be as good and a couple of grand cheaper too!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

26 July 2013

another good reason to buy this car over the Golf is if you want a lower powered car with an automatic gearbox in a 3 door the Golf is a 5 door only with the smaller engines.

26 July 2013

It looks pretty fine too. Gave one a thorough once over recently and it reminded me of a sharper looking Alfa Brera from some angles. 

26 July 2013

Does this have the torsion-bar or multi-link setup on the rear?

26 July 2013

GenericAutocarComment wrote:

Does this have the torsion-bar or multi-link setup on the rear?

I think this will be the torsion bar set up.

Mr Moss says this Leon is still some way off the Golf, but he doesn't seem to give any justification for this. For me, this car is better than the Golf: I think the current Golf is one of VWs less successful styling exercises, particularly in 3 door form, where the Leon looks very stylish, the Golf looks exceedingly plain and dowdy. As for other aspects of the car, everything I've read, (including the body of this review) suggests the Leon is the better vehicle.

26 July 2013

catnip wrote:

Mr Moss says this Leon is still some way off the Golf, but he doesn't seem to give any justification for this. For me, this car is better than the Golf: I think the current Golf is one of VWs less successful styling exercises...

Agreed. On looks alone Leon beats Golf hands down. Add to it Leon's considerably lower pricing and Golf's perceived superiority becomes even harder to justify. That's probably why Mr Moss didn't bother giving us any reasons.

digitalmookid wrote:

You review a 1.2 tsi but have FR pictures??? having spent the last month looking at the FR I can tell you there are quite a few differences, i thought for a moment they had released a small FR engine model, pretty lazy autocar tut tut.

First time I noticed this trend of showing us readers misleading pictures among our journalists was while reading the review of the Golf Bluemotion. I'm begining to think its more than mere innocent laziness!

26 July 2013

fadyady wrote:

catnip wrote:

For me, this car is better than the Golf: I think the current Golf is one of VWs less successful styling exercises...

Agreed. On looks alone Leon beats Golf hands down. Add to it Leon's considerably lower pricing and Golf's perceived superiority becomes even harder to justify. That's probably why Mr Moss didn't bother giving us any reasons.

I'm another who agrees with you on styling, and that's coming from someone who's about to take delivery of our new Golf. (Or at least up to the c-pillar  -  the new Leon 5dr looks like the previous generation Kia Cee'd).

True the Golf is more expensive, I reckon by approx £2500, but I reckon that's justified. The Golf is head and shoulders above the Leon in the fit and finish department, it's the better quality product. And it comes with more std equipment. Add to that the many practical design advantages ie boot access, and the Golf is the better product.

Then we come to price. The Golf is the more desirable product which is reflected in resale values. After 3 years, that £2500 difference will be maintained if not increased. SEAT's current promotion says everything...  they are giving away free LED headlamp, Sat Nav and DAB radio on the Leon right now, none of which will adds to the value of the car. There's no need for VW to make such offers.

Biggest decision for us was the old petrol -v- diesel debate. Our preference has been diesel for some years now but given the advancement in petrol engines, it's becoming a close run thing, even for low mileage users like me. However I'm sticking with diesel. I reckon you'd need to work that petrol engine for overtaking etc, hence I'm not sure the quoted mpg is achievable in the real world. From experience I know I can take advantage of the low down torque derv has to offer, and achieve or even exceed those mpg figures for a derv unit. And then there's the price - diesel engine used to be a £1000 - £1500 premium over petrol, but that's no longer the case. These new ultra efficient petrol units are almost as expensive. 

If you can't afford the Golf then there's no contest, you have to go with the SEAT (or better still the Skoda), but if you have a spare £2500 sitting doing nothing, I agree with the author. For me at least, the Golf is the better investment.

28 July 2013

scotty5 wrote:

fadyady wrote:

catnip wrote:

For me, this car is better than the Golf: I think the current Golf is one of VWs less successful styling exercises...

Agreed. On looks alone Leon beats Golf hands down. Add to it Leon's considerably lower pricing and Golf's perceived superiority becomes even harder to justify. That's probably why Mr Moss didn't bother giving us any reasons.

I'm another who agrees with you on styling, and that's coming from someone who's about to take delivery of our new Golf. (Or at least up to the c-pillar  -  the new Leon 5dr looks like the previous generation Kia Cee'd).

True the Golf is more expensive, I reckon by approx £2500, but I reckon that's justified. The Golf is head and shoulders above the Leon in the fit and finish department, it's the better quality product. And it comes with more std equipment. Add to that the many practical design advantages ie boot access, and the Golf is the better product.

Then we come to price. The Golf is the more desirable product which is reflected in resale values. After 3 years, that £2500 difference will be maintained if not increased. SEAT's current promotion says everything...  they are giving away free LED headlamp, Sat Nav and DAB radio on the Leon right now, none of which will adds to the value of the car. There's no need for VW to make such offers.

Biggest decision for us was the old petrol -v- diesel debate. Our preference has been diesel for some years now but given the advancement in petrol engines, it's becoming a close run thing, even for low mileage users like me. However I'm sticking with diesel. I reckon you'd need to work that petrol engine for overtaking etc, hence I'm not sure the quoted mpg is achievable in the real world. From experience I know I can take advantage of the low down torque derv has to offer, and achieve or even exceed those mpg figures for a derv unit. And then there's the price - diesel engine used to be a £1000 - £1500 premium over petrol, but that's no longer the case. These new ultra efficient petrol units are almost as expensive. 

If you can't afford the Golf then there's no contest, you have to go with the SEAT (or better still the Skoda), but if you have a spare £2500 sitting doing nothing, I agree with the author. For me at least, the Golf is the better investment.

I disagree. I  of course would expect you to say that the Golf is better (since you have bought one) and that's true to a degree, however, Golf owners need to understand that the Golf is just not that ahead of the pack like it use to be. The Leon, the Ceed, i30 and the Octavia have all caught up, the Audi A3 has moved the goal posts and the Golf is now the 'inbetweener'. The Golf has a better dashboard, but that's all i can see that is better than the Leon. The Leon has the same techonology as the Golf (the distance radar), Sat nav etc. and even has Led headlights that even the Golf hasn't got anymore.  The Leon is what the Golf use to be and anyone who buys one should not be dissapointed at all that they could not afford the Golf because it's not true that the Golf is miles ahead. The Leon winning Autoexpress car of the year and What car is evident of this. The Leon has a wide range of abilities and good looks to ensure it's an alternative (all be it a cheaper one) to the Golf. The Golf has built it's image over the years and it's my opinion that it's premium is mainly down to it's badges (Golf and VW) rather than it's abilities (like it use to be). 

28 July 2013

As before.

27 July 2013

Image 5 says 3 trims are available: S, SE and FR. I presume this is a 1.2tsi with FR trim and that Seat are doing an Audi by offering a sporty S-line esk trim with lower powered models.

 

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