SEAT Leon: Take a SEAT on Spanish Gold


Considering Spain is the largest producer of cars, it’s only fair that it also has its own marque. SEAT if you are wondering is a Spanish based automaker with a big reputation, especially after it joined the Volkswagen Group. It is available worldwide with over 500,000 units being produced yearly. SEAT seats pretty as the top automobile automaker in its native Spain. It’s the only automaker in its country that is able to and has the infrastructure to make its own cars in house. Today, the SEAT Leon is the most important model it produces. It’s meant as a cheaper sportier alternative to the Volkswagen Golf. However, this car has surpassed the Golf with its latest model, careful there not to outshine the master.


The Leon was launched in 1999 and was only available as a hatchback at the time. However, later it gave birth to the saloon version that was known as the SEAT Toledo. It shared the Volkswagen Group A4 platform and shared some of the features of VW cars like the Golf, Bora and Audi A3. This was SEAT’s first C-segment car as part of the VW Group. It featured a more aggressive exterior just to express its sportiness. Though christened as a Golf alternative it had more powerful trims.

The Current Model

Currently, the SEAT Leon is in its third generation (Typ 5F), which is based on Volkswagen Group’s new MQB platform. This by the way makes the SEAT Leon the second car to be based on the MQB platform. Official info and pictures of the new Leon were made available in July 16, 2012. Later it was unveiled in the 2012 Paris Motor Show.

The Variants

The Leon is available in three bodystyles as either a 3-door or 5-door hatchback and as a 5-door estate. The 5-door hatch is standard and here are its trims:

  • SE
  • S
  • FR


The Powertrain

Powering the Leon are variants of petrol and diesel four cylinder engines. The most powerful petrol engine is the 2.0L TSI Cupra that manages to produce 286 bhp of power and 350 N·m of torque. As for the most powerful diesel, it’s the 2.0L TDI, which gives out 181 bhp with 380 N·m. There are a number of transmission options:

  • 5-speed manual
  • 6-speed manual
  • 6-speed auto
  • 7-speed auto

The new Leon is shorter by 5 cm and has managed to trim 90 kgs. With this in mind this could be a contributing factor to its brilliant performance.

The Interior

Entering the SEAT you’ll feel that it’s a little bit bland, which to be honest it is. However, it offers great practicality with Golf like styling. You’ve got your touchscreen on the middle of a very soft feeling dash and a steering wheel that would feel home in an Audi. Thanks to the wheelbase being extended by 5.8 cm the cabin is roomier. Also, the boot space has become even larger, and now stands at 380 liters.

The Exterior

I really feel that the Leon gets its full weight in gold here as it looks that good. I’ll go further and say that I feel it’s the best looking family hatch.

Our Verdict

Launched as supporting cast to the Volkswagen Golf, however three generations later the SEAT has taken this segment by storm. There simply isn’t another car that deserves to be revered as much. It looks greater than the docile Golf and actually drives better. If that still doesn’t convince you, this car is considered as top of its class by respectable motor publications like Auto Express. Simply, the best family hatch money can buy.

You’ll need to start to budget from £ 17,700, to own a Leon.

Do you believe that this is the best family hatch out there or are you more persuaded by the likes of the Golf and Focus? Have your say, leave a comment.

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Cris Shaki

Passionate about cars, tech, people, business, history, art & writing. I also enjoy being a graphic designer and web designer.

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