Skip to content


CAR Reviews

Click Thumbnails to Enlarge


How much? £17,840
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1395cc 16v turbocharged four-cylinder137bhp @ 4500rpm, 184lb ft @ 1500-3000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 8.2sec 0-62mph, 131mph, 54.3mpg, 119g/km
How heavy / made of? 1231kg/aluminium
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4315/1768/1455
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 4 out of 54

Readers' rating

Rated 4 out of 54

Seat Leon 1.4 TSI (2013) CAR review

By Steve Moody

First Drives

24 January 2013 12:15

The new Seat Leon's greatest enemies come from within: its VW Group sister cars like the new Golf and Audi A3 share the same underpinnings, but get posher badges. Can the Leon fight back with better value? CAR has driven petrol and diesel variants to find out.

What exactly is under the skin of the new Seat Leon?

Like the Golf, it uses the VW Group’s new small-car MQB platform architecture, and shares half of its structural, mechanical and electrical bits, with the front axle 40mm forward from the old Leon, and the wheelbase elongated by marginally more despite being shorter overall. The biggest gains have been made inside, though. The neater packaging means a lot of space in the cabin for a car of this size, especially in the back.

Talk me though the Leon's engine range

Like the Golf, the Leon petrol and diesel engine range features the usual well-trodden direct-injection and turbocharged luminaries from 1.2 to 2.0 litres. And like the Golf, there will be a twin-clutch DSG option, but not until the spring. However, next year the Leon FR will offer up the 2.0 TDI 181bhp engine first. Stick that in your tailpipe and smoke it, Golf.

Seat has taken a sensible approach in fitting the more powerful stuff producing 150bhp or more with independent rear suspension, while those at the more parsimonious end of the range have a torsion beam at the back, keeping costs and weight down.

Does the low-rent rear suspension affect the handling?

That means the 1.4 TSI and 1.6 TDI we drove both have the cheaper system, but it doesn’t really show. It reacts with a hard-ish stomp over sudden bumps – but across most surfaces, when given more time to absorb changes, it is compliant enough, with body control decently well contained. Not much information feeds back through the steering, and if you push either of them hard through corners, all the data you need is received from the wailing of crabbing rubber.
The diesel will be the big seller in the range, with its company car-friendly low emissions of below 100g/km for the Ecomotive variant, but it is a bit gruff at low revs and the TSI is the more characterful motor. Both are pretty sprightly, though.

The new Seat Leon's sharp new look

Seat tried to imbue the outgoing Leon with character when it tried to break it out of the Golf’s shadow, and the jury is out on whether it succeeded or not. Personally, I think it looked like a giant computer mouse.

The first version had a more traditional hatchback aesthetic and this one tends towards that approach. It’s a sharp, outsized Ibiza from the front, but the side and rear views are much better – taut, clean surfaces and a whiff of Alfa around the boot. I like the Starship Trooper guns for wing mirrors, too. The Seat designers were a bit worried about the change in rear door handle positioning – they have burst forth from their sporty berth on the C-pillar and now occupy a prosaic spot where rear door handles usually go. Like on a Golf. Seems eminently sensible to me.

Is the interior of the new Seat Leon up to scratch?

Inside, some of the plastics are certainly not like a Golf – especially lower down, with the flap on the centre console bin clearly a major pillar of the Spanish Government’s austerity plan. But generally the materials are solid where it matters, and there is plenty of useful kit available, although the ‘Heading Control’, in which the electromechanical power steering intervenes to keep you between the lines is amazingly bossy and insistent, and rather unnerving. Switching it off is recommended.


Price wise – and this is where the Leon really carves a life for itself – it is significantly cheaper than a Golf, with the 1.6 TDI a whopping two grand cheaper, and the TSI about £1000 less. If the Leon gains the same acceptance on the used market as the first generation did, then Seat will really have its own trusted, admired and liked family hatchback. Just like a Golf.


Rate this article...

Average rating: Rated 4 out of 54 (27 votes)

Discuss this

Add your comment

Seat Leon 1.4 TSI (2013) CAR review


Your comment

By submitting your comment, you agree to adhere to the CAR Magazine website Terms and Conditions




reward badge

Fadyady says

RE: Seat Leon 1.4 TSI (2013) CAR review

Its a Golf in Seat's clothing.

VW deserves all the praise for the rest of the car but Seat deserves some praise. They made some effort to make it look different from the outgoing model. Can't say the same about A3 and Golf.

29 January 2013 22:06



reward badge

timbo65 says

RE: Seat Leon 1.4 TSI (2013) CAR review

@chrisward & livc44411:


it's called badge blindness... I have now read a fair few reviews of the Golf (including GK's - you'd be forgiven for thinking he was a VW rep!!) and all seem to have this view that it outshines anything else on the planet!

Ok, so I have yet to drive one, but I have sat in one and poked around. It's the interior quality that seems to get the reviewers most excited! But I can confirm that even the top GT trim still gets cheaper plastics in the places where the front seat occupants dont usually look (ie lower down, rear door cards etc) Sure the eye level dash and trim is very classy looking, but I guarantee the overall quality isn't up there with most premium cars from the class above (or even this class with the A3) contrary to what the reviews say. Go see for yourself.

29 January 2013 15:32



reward badge

rmcondo says

RE: Seat Leon 1.4 TSI (2013) CAR review

Pretty pointless car and a brand that seems to have no distinct purpose at all.

Better a Skoda Rapid

29 January 2013 07:40



reward badge

antonyr says

RE: Seat Leon 1.4 TSI (2013) CAR review

 I agree, VW AG  are really infesting our roads with drefully boring generic looking motors all with same engines etc etc   abit like good old BMC used to be stick a so and so badge on the front  and make a difference in their prices  and hopefully no one notices  URRRRHH

28 January 2013 13:57



reward badge

Fadyady says

RE: Seat Leon (2013) CAR review

At least Seat made an effort with the new Leon's design. The new Audi A3, VW Golf and Skoda Octavia suffer from a lethargic design language and these cars are very difficult to tell from the old models.

Another thing in Leon's favour is its price. Its the lowest of the lot. That brings some merit to the car. Audi and VW's higher badge appeal nulls it. Octavia's popularity as minicab pushes Leon further back on the sales chart.

25 January 2013 18:32

Become a CAR contributor

Upload stories, photos or videos direct to the site, or email

Alternatively, call 01733 468 485 (+ 44 1733 468 485)

CAR magazine Feb issue
Untitled Document

Become a CAR contributor

Seen a secret new car, fabulous exotic or have news we should publish? Then get in touch now.