Used SEAT Leon Review (2012-2020) MK3

Independent review by Peter Hayward from Driving Force

4-minute read

SEAT Leon Exterior Front

SEAT Leon (2012-2020)

The reliable SEAT Leon is great for a range of needs and responsibilities, offering an excellent mix of value and practicality

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  • Stylish interior
  • Generous equipment
  • Spacious
  • Diesel models are less comfortable
  • Not the most sleek design
  • Rivals are more fun to drive
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What's the SEAT Leon like?

The SEAT Leon has a lot to recommend it, with a stylish interior, very good equipment and a smooth, svelte body shape.

It’s been available with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines over the years, and with 5 or 6-speed manual gearboxes in different models. Some petrol and diesel engines are also available with the excellent 7-speed DSG automatic.

And there’s a huge range of trims, so just make sure any car you look at has all the bells and whistles you want.


The 1.2-litre TSI petrol Leon is cheaper to buy and run than the 1.6-litre diesel, and other petrol engines available in the range include 1.0-litre, 1.4-litre and 1.5-litre petrol turbos with 115bhp, 125bhp, 140bhp or 150bhp.

Even the 1.0-litre manages the 60mph sprint from rest in 9.5 seconds, while when it’s driven carefully, it should also manage over 50mpg.

And the 150bhp 1.5-litre brings the sprint down to 8.1 seconds and should be capable of 47mpg under the latest and more realistic economy calculations.

Diesels are the well-known VW Group 1.6-litre TDI with 110bhp or 115bhp and 2.0-litre with 140bhp, 150bhp, 184bhp or 190bhp.

The 1.6-litre is good for 61mpg and covers the 60mph sprint in about 10.0 seconds, and the 150bhp 2.0-litre should make 55mpg and do the sprint in 8.1 seconds.

The Leon is based on the same floorpan as the equivalent Volkswagen Golf, and all the engines are shared by the two cars.

Driving Experience

Performance is good to excellent in them all, and the petrol engines are all delightfully smooth and quiet.
Peter Hayward

The diesels have better economy, but they're not as smooth and are more expensive to buy at the same year and mileage.

Interior space is good, with room for four and five on a shorter run. The boot is a decent size and the rear seats fold 60/40 for maximum versatility.

Lower order cars have a comfortable ride allied to very good road-holding and handling, but the more sporting models have stiffened suspension for sharper handling, and this gives a much firmer ride with little gain in the road-holding department.


All Leon models are 5-door hatches, and the level of equipment makes the VW Golf look overpriced.

Kit in the base S includes start/stop, an alarm, audio remote, air conditioning, electric mirrors and front windows, traction control, remote locking and height adjustment for both driver’s seat and steering column.

SE adds alloy wheels, cruise control, heated mirrors, lumbar support for the driver's seat and rear electric windows.

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The SEAT Leon is an ideal choice for those looking for a dependable hatchback with tons of practicality. With generous equipment, a range of economical engines, and oodles of interior space for the whole family, the Leon is hard to say no to.