Seat Leon Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Sunday 10th December


What is it like to drive?

The Leon uses the same MQB architecture as the Mk8 Golf… which is largely the same as the Mk7 Golf… which the previous Leon also used. Long story short, you’ll find no significant changes to the basic hardware. Instead, most things in the suspension and powertrains (again, shared with its Volkswagen counterpart) are gently improved and finessed to bring them up to new emissions standards and to add a bit of extra comfort and refinement.

What are my engine options?

You’ve the choice of three petrols (a 1.0-litre with 108bhp and a 1.5-litre with 128bhp or 148bhp), two diesels (both 2.0-litre with either 113bhp or 148bhp), and mild- or plug-in hybrid versions. The former pairs either the 1.0-litre or 1.5-litre (150bhp) petrol with a 48V system, while the latter mates a 1.4-litre petrol engine with a 13kWh battery for a total of 201bhp and up to 40 miles of electric range. Oh, and there’s also the Cupra go-faster hot hatch version – click these blue words if that’s the one you’re after.

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We’ll start with the 1.5-litre petrol in 150bhp guise. It’s a smooth, quiet and reasonably economical engine but suffers from lag low down, which means you have to play around the five-speed manual ‘box to be in the right gear to be in the powerband. No bad thing, as it’s a lovely direct gearbox to use. Don't fret if changing gear isn’t your thing – there’s also a twin-clutch DSG auto available too.

The 1.5-litre mild-hybrid (self-charging, no plugging in required) paired with the seven-speed DSG, meanwhile, utilises a 48V starter-generator and small lithium-ion battery for a dose of low-end torque, as well as enabling coasting with the engine switched off. We found it pretty good, too, with the electrical input helping to minimise any turbo lag and kicking in fairly frequently when coasting. Frugal, too – against Seat’s claimed 49mpg figure, we managed 45mpg easily.

Is it at all… fun?

On the road the Leon feels light on its feet, with crisp turn-in and decent enough ride from the twist-beam rear suspension – even on the larger wheels. It’s not easily deflected down a broken road and is comfortable at a cruise, even though in the cabin is a bit noisier than a Golf. But that’s not its aim – if you want to go fast, we’d recommend the Cupra, mainly because the brakes can’t handle much enthused driving without the pedal wilting to the floor.

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

Seat Leon 2.0 TSI EVO FR Sport 5dr DSG
  • 0-627.4s
  • CO2
  • BHP190
  • MPG
  • Price£29,760

the cheapest

Seat Leon 1.5 TSI EVO FR 5dr
  • 0-629.4s
  • CO2
  • BHP130
  • MPG
  • Price£23,830

Variants We Have Tested

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