The Leon has benefitted from Seat’s decision to give it a makeover, and it’s come out at the other side an absolutely fantastic car. We think this is one of the most stunning cars on the road at the moment, and with standard features such as air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, a touch screen display, and MP3 connectivity too, we reckon you won’t do much better than this car. Give us a call today for your Seat Leon contract hire options.
Overall, this is exactly the car the Spanish brand needs to keep itself competitive.
On the move, the Leon has a sportier feel than you’d find in the other VW Group products that share its stiff, sophisticated MQB platform. With earlier generation models, that used to put off some potential drivers but with the MK3 design, the Spanish engineers have managed to blend the car’s form responses with an acceptably-compliant standard of ride. Most versions also get an XDS electronic differential lock that helps you get the power down more quickly out of tight corners. Only the most powerful variants get multi-link rear suspension.
At the original launch of the third generation Leon model, SEAT told us that their stylists used a special tool to design this car, light. Every day, the prototype was wheeled outside so the team could see how the reflections and highlights looked under the clear Spanish sun. The end result, a pure interpretation of the company’s ‘arrow head’ design philosophy, is a reward for such attention to detail, a decisive, sharply drawn shape with a clean, crisp, racy look that’s especially eye-catching when dressed to kill.
The clever creasing didn’t need changing much, so it hasn’t been significantly altered as part of this mid-term facelift. If you were familiar with the original version of the car, you might notice the improved version’s lower, wider bonnet and the bigger, more prominent front grille. The bumper’s been re-styled too, which has meant the addition of a sleeker set of front foglights that now sit just above the angular lower corner air intakes.
Let’s take a seat up front, where the changes are as subtle as those made to the exterior. Even so, long-time Leon users won’t take long to spot the two main ones – the addition of an electronic handbrake and a larger 8-inch centre-dash infotainment touchscreen. True, against a Golf, the interior may lose out a little in terms of chromed highlights and soft-touch plastic, but by the same token, it is in many respects a more interesting place to be with unusual trapezoidal shapes for things like the door handles and the airvents.
And in the rear seat? Well the longer wheelbase of the third generation model made things a little more spacious back here, though it’s still isn’t quite in a rival Skoda Octavia’s league when it comes to space for knees and legs.
Finally, let’s take a look in the boot. In both this five-door hatch and the three-door ‘SC’ coupe, it’s 380-litres in size. It’s annoying that the height-adjustable boot floor is optional on most trim levels but it’s probably worth having because when in place, it creates a separate lower storage area.
Push forward the 60:40 split-folding rear seat back and another advantage of the adjustable floor is that it smoothes out the step in the floor you’d otherwise get with everything flat. In this configuration, 1,210-litres if fresh air is freed up.
So, plenty has changed with the third generation Leon. But much more has remained exactly as it was. Which in many ways, is no bad thing. This has always been the most characterful of the Volkswagen Group family hatchback models, yet it comes with nearly all the same engineering and design integrity you’d probably end up paying a lot more for in a comparable Volkswagen Golf.
True, the Leon could be more exciting in its more affordable forms – and it’s no longer one of the cheapest options you could choose in this segment. Still, SEAT’s argument in response is that this is now one of the most technologically advanced cars of its kind. There’s some truth in that.
That apart, there’s plenty to like here, SEAT having done just enough to keep its key contender current with the mid-life package of updates. These changes probably won’t be enough to win over the unconverted, but if you were already attracted to a Leon, then this one will probably satisfy you very much indeed.