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Seat Leon (06 - 12)

Seat Leon (06 - 12)

Rating

3.5 stars

Quick Summary

Recommended. The VW Golf's Spanish sister is a stylish, fine-driving family hatchback. Performance versions like the Cupra crown the range.

Full Road Test

The new Leon sticks closely to Seat's established script of combining strong design and practicality - this is one of the larger of the current generation of family hatchbacks.
The handsome styling includes some very coupe design features. Like the old Alfa 147 and Honda Civic, the Leon has hidden handles for the rear doors, secreted in an indentation in the rearmost side window.
Inside the Leon is spacious and benefits from strong, modern design - although some of the materials feel markedly less upmarket than those fitted to various rivals. Good driving position adjustment makes it easy to get comfortable and rear seat passengers also benefit from plenty of space. The boot is reasonably large, although access to it is hindered slightly by a relatively narrow tailgate aperture. Excellent standard equipment sees air con and traction control standard on even the most basic variants. Plusher versions are positively bristling with kit.
In terms of driving dynamics, the Leon feels very similar to the VW Golf th+D208at it's based on: secure, sensible and predictable. The electrically assisted steering offers good reactions, but can muster little feel and the ride can get a bit too firm over rougher surfaces, especially in town.
All engines give decent performance - from the loud-but-willing 1.6 litre petrol upwards. The 2.0 FSI and 2.0 Turbo FSI petrol motors give reasonable urge, but for serious performance look to the more potent "FR" and "Cupra" versions. Although the FR can't quite match the Golf GTI as an all-rounder it's still a driver's car with much to offer - especially when equipped with the DSG gearbox. The Cupra takes that performance a step further, offering blistering pace and enhanced front-end grip.

Next: Full Road Test