Pros: Cheaper than Golf, standard equipment, comfortable ride
Cons: Road noise, average boot space
The new fourth generation SEAT Leon has arrived in Ireland. But can this Spanish hatchback compete with its German cousin the Volkswagen Golf? We tested it out on Irish roads to find out.
Right off the bat, you can see that the new Leon looks a lot sharper than its predecessor. Distinctive lines and deep creases along the body as well as LED daytime running lights and a new grille define the Leon with the newest SEAT character, like that seen with the Tarraco.
At the rear, you are met with a full width lightbar, that illuminates nicely when you lock and unlock the vehicle. A feature that you can’t help but compare to the likes of the Porsche 911. Underneath you will notice the new fancy font used to identify it as a ‘Leon’ which does give it a more premium touch comparing it to the block writing in previous versions.
The inside is really where SEAT stepped up their game for the new Leon. An impressive 10-inch infotainment touchscreen with fancy minimalistic climate control temperature bar-buttons underneath show how advanced this version is. SEAT have done away with any hard-touch plastics and used high quality materials throughout the cabin and along the dash. This along with the impressive ambient lighting, gives the Leon a real premium feel inside.
The new Leon is more advanced than ever technologically speaking, with speech recognition, gesture control, Car2X connectivity, USB-free Apple CarPlay, a pair of USB-C ports in the rear and even wireless smartphone charging.
Passenger space in the rear is plentiful for a hatchback, sitting three passengers comfortable enough. The boot holds 380-litres, which is adequate luggage space for small family trips.
There are three trims to choose from for your Leon. The SE which is the entry-level and comes with plenty of features as standard including 16" Alloy Wheels, 8" Media System and Adaptive Cruise Control. The Xcellence trim comes with 17" Alloy Wheels, Full Digital Cockpit and a Rear View Camera. Then there’s the FR trim that includes 18" Machined Alloy Wheels.
There are two petrol engines to choose from for the new Leon, the 1.0 TSI 110 HP or the 1.5 TSI 150 HP that we drove. There are also two 2.0-litre TDI options available, you can choose from a 110hp six-speed manual, or a 150 TDI seven-speed DSG automatic. SEAT also offer a plug-in hybrid option for the Leon in the form of a 1.5 eTSI 150 HP. The all-new SEAT Leon e-Hybrid recharges the battery automatically, as well as being a plug-in model too.
The car we tested car was a 1.5 TSI 150HP Xcellence six-speed manual. It drives smoothly with a decent suspension, even over rough roads. Handling is not bad either, the Leon is well able to take corners, even in the midst of the city where we drove it. The gearbox did seem a bit clunky when changing up and down, so I would recommend going for the DSG automatic transmission which is also available. The 1.5-litre engine is reasonably economical, but I would definitely recommend going for the hybrid option if you are looking to get the most bang for your buck.
Carzone Verdict 4/5
The new SEAT Leon is a strong attempt to compete with the Golf. It offers a comfortable ride and is filled with juicy technology. Slight styling updates have given the Leon more of a polished looking exterior. If you want a car that ticks most of the boxes the Golf does, but is €4,000 cheaper, then the Leon is the way to go.
Starting Price: €23,525
Price of Test Car: €28,390
Motor Tax: €200 per annum
Engine: 1.5 TSI 150 HP
Max Speed: 216 Km/hr
Max Power: 110/150 KW/HP
Max Torque: 250 Nm
CO2 Emissions: 113
Vehicle emissions / consumption (NEDC): 4.9l/100km
Rivals: Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla,