While not as well-known as manufacturers like Ford, Audi and Land Rover, SEAT has made a name for itself with superior engineering, excellent handling and sleek aesthetics. The Spanish automobile manufacturer now maintains a sizeable presence on British roads, with the Leon and Ibiza stepping up as two of the manufacturer's bestselling models.
Tossing up between the pair? Read on for an insider's guide comparing some of the key similarities and differences between the SEAT Leon and SEAT Ibiza.
SEAT is currently manufacturing the third generation of Leon, which boasts the same Volkswagen Group MQB platform seen in the MkVII Golf and the Audi A3. The most popular version is the five-door hatchback, which is available in three versions - Style, Xcellence and FR. The compact yet functional design has won the SEAT Leon comparisons the hugely popular Volkswagen Golf, as well as the Skoda Octavia, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.
Small but mighty, the SEAT Ibiza also draws on VW technology. It uses the new MQB A0 platform, a smaller and lighter version of platforms used in the company's other transverse-engine cars. An extended wheelbase and wider track increase cabin space and boost on road stability. The design specs make it comparable to other popular superminis like the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Peugeot 208, Vauxhall Corsa, Citroen C3 and Nissan Micra.
With angular lines and Formula Racing inspired trim, the SEAT Ibiza is the sportier of the two models. It's often compared to the Volkswagen Polo and features sharp edges and multilateral detail on the bonnet and body.
The SEAT Leon is geared towards families, with extra space and functionality. It boasts the same sporty design though loses some of its urban appeal with the added size. Choose from a range of colours, from soft hues and eye-catching metallics.
With an impressive 380 litre boot capacity, the SEAT Leon has enough room for all your family’s needs, plus more. The Ibiza is slightly smaller though still roomy considering its supermini class, with a boot capacity of 355 litres. While both models offer plenty of head room and leg space, the larger scale of the SEAT Leon makes for a more comfortable ride, especially for backseat passengers.
Eco credentials and BIK
The entry-level version of the Ibiza, which features a 79bhp 1.0-litre engine, offers up to 48.7mpg. Upgrade to the turbocharged 1.0-litre TSI and you'll enjoy up to 53.3mpg, which outperforms the Ford Fiesta EcoBoost. The Ibiza also offers low CO2 emissions of 105g/km, positioning it into the lower BIK band.
The larger size of the Leon means you'll compromise fuel efficiency, with both the 128bhp and 148bhp versions of the 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine offering around 47mpg. The 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine offers better returns of 52.3mpg. Low CO2 emissions of just 109g/km put the Leon in a low BIK band and make it an appealing option for company car drivers.
The Leon boasts a clever Adaptive Cruise Control system that automatically speeds up or slows down depending on traffic. Full LED headlights will illuminate even the darkest of country roads and make the LEON a top choice for night driving. A rain sensor automatically switches on the wipers when it's sprinkling or bucketing down, while a rear-view camera ensures awareness from every angle.
The Ibiza doesn't scrimp on safety, with smart driver and passenger airbags and clever features like speed control, emergency braking assist and tiredness recognition. Electronic stability control slows down the car at the first sign of a slip to minimise skidding and keep you in control. New and inexperienced drivers will also love extras like Hill Hold Control to prevent rollbacks and an inbuilt Tyre Pressure monitor.
All versions of the SEAT Ibiza are powered by three-cylinder, 1.0-litre engines with up to 115bhp. The sportier FR model boasts a more powerful 1.5 four-cylinder engine designed by the VW Group and capable of 150bhp. The SEAT Leon is available with a variety of different engine types, including the basic but powerful 1.0 EcoTSI 85 kW MQ-6 Start/Stop (115 HP). Features include 200 Nm max torque, max speed of 120mph and acceleration of 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds.
Technology and extras
The SEAT Ibiza is geared towards younger drivers and the interior reflects the preferences of this demographic. More than half of the available models feature an eight-inch media system, as well as Bluetooth and USB connectivity. The Ibiza also offer millennial-friendly upgrades like phone mirroring and a premium BeatsAudio system with six speakers for a surround sound experience, as well as a 300W amplifier and a 10-litre subwoofer.
The Leon will also keep you connected with SEAT's signature Full Link hands-free technology powered by Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Stay on track with a full media control centre, motion-sensing sat nav and capacity for dual smartphone connectivity. The wireless charger will keep your battery at 100%, while the cloud-based voice Amazon Alexa service will answer all your questions on the go.
The final verdict
Overall, whether you prefer the Leon or Ibiza will depend on your personal taste and how you plan to use the car. When it comes to zipping around the city, the Ibiza demands attention with its compact size and high-tech interior. If extra space and a smoother ride are priorities, the Leon comes up trumps.