Nearly new buying guide: Seat Leon (Mk4)

99 nearly new guide seat leon mk4 lead

Stylish, capable and good value, this fourth-generation family hatch is a smart buy

There are few better choices than a Seat Leon if you’re after a wellrounded family car. We loved the previous model but the latest, fourth-generation car (on sale since 2020) is an even more attractive buy.

It offers a versatile mix of petrol, diesel and electrified powertrains, as well as hatchback and estate bodystyles, and its refinement and equipment levels match those of its Volkswagen Golf cousin.

The Leon is not just a clone of its German counterpart, though. Its handsome styling looks crisp and it’s involving to drive, thanks to a selection of smooth powertrains, tidy dynamics and progressive brakes. A smart-looking, uncluttered interior helps to make it a complete and capable package.

The toughest decision will be choosing which powertrain to go for. The range opens with a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 108bhp. There are also two turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol units. The 128bhp 1.5 will dispatch 0-62mph in 9.4sec and the 148bhp 1.5 will complete the sprint in 8.7sec.

The largest pure petrol engine is a 2.0-litre turbo. It’s the fastest Leon you can buy now that Cupra has become its own standalone brand, with 0-62mph in 7.4sec and a top speed of 144mph. Mile-munchers are also spoilt for choice as there are 2.0-litre diesel options in 113bhp and 147bhp guises.

As for electrified models, the Leon is offered as both a mild hybrid (badged eTSI) and a plug-in hybrid (eHybrid). The eHybrid is driven by the same 1.4-litre petrol engine used in the Golf GTE and is mated to an electric motor for a total of 201bhp and a 0-62mph time of 7.5sec. Its 13kWh battery enables an all-electric range of 38 miles and takes 3.5 hours to charge using an AC home charger. 

The eTSI, meanwhile, uses a 48V starter-generator and a small lithium-ion battery for energy recuperation, silent coasting and torque assistance. This hybrid system is available on the 1.0 and 1.5 TSI petrol engines.

The Leon is well equipped as standard, but there are six spec levels to sift through before making your final decision. Entry-level SE cars are fitted with 16in wheels, air conditioning, keyless entry, an 8.0in infotainment system and cruise control as standard. SE Dynamic adds front parking sensors, 17in wheels and tinted rear windows.

FR trim injects a more sporting tone, with sports suspension for more engaging cornering, dual exhaust pipes, sleeker front and rear bumpers, dynamic indicators, tri-zone climate control and automatic wipers. FR Sport gains a winter pack with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, as well as ambient lighting and 18in wheels.

For even more kit, Xcellence features full-LED headlights, a rear-view camera, unique bumpers, chrome window frames and 17in wheels. It also gets FR Sport’s winter pack, with the added benefit of adaptive cruise control. Finally, Excellence Lux gains leather trim and performance 18in wheels.

Buyer beware

PHEV boot penalty: The plug-in hybrid hatch’s motor and battery rob it of 110 litres of boot space, which falls to a superminisized 270 litres. The plug-in estate model has its space slashed to 470 litres for the same reason.

Take care reversing: The Leon secured a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, with good scores in all areas. That said, it was let down slightly by its 71% vulnerable road user score, where it lost marks because it does not detect pedestrians at the rear of the car.

Haptic touchpads: This generation of the Leon has lost its ergonomic physical air conditioning controls, which have been replaced with haptic touchpads. Putting it mildly, these controls have received mixed reviews from users and some have said they can be difficult to use when on the move.

Need to know

Prices for a current-shape Leon start from £15,000 for a 1.0-litre TSI and from £18,000 for a 1.5-litre. A 2.0-litre diesel is around £20,000, an eTSI just above at £21,000 and an eHybrid £24,000.

The previous-generation petrol- powered Leon finished 10th in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey for family cars up to five years old and the diesel model finished 11th. As a brand, Seat finished 17th place out of 30 car makers in the 2021 survey with an average score of 93.3% for models up to five years old. That’s behind Skoda (95%), but ahead of Audi (92.8%), VW (91.4%) and Ford (86.2%).

With the exception of the plug-in hybrid version (see ‘Buyer beware’), the hatchback has a 380-litre boot (the same as the previous , Mk3 version) with a 60:40 split rear seat, and the estate has a sizeable 620 litres.

Our top picks

Ideal trim level – FR Sport: Several sporty additions, including suspension lowered by 15mm and bespoke styling,make the FR Sport great value for a mid-range specification.

Engine sweet spot – 1.5 130 TSI: This 1.5-litre variant packs enough power for daily use and can represent a useful saving over the more powerful 148bhp model.

Wild card – 1.4 eHybrid: Plug-in power isn’t for everyone, but the eHybrid Leon is economical if you can make use of that 38-mile range. Its performance is also almost equal to the 2.0-litre petrol model’s.

Ones we found

2020 Seat Leon 1.5 TSI 130 FR, 5000 miles, £18,900

2020 Seat Leon 1.4 eHybrid FR, 7000 miles, £23,350

2021 Seat Leon 1.5 eTSI 150 FR, 11,000 miles, £22,200

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