SEAT Leon review - a Golf fighter at every level - SEAT Leon ride and handling

SEAT's Leon is much more than a Volkswagen Golf understudy

Evo rating
Price
from £20,000
  • Neat styling, spacious interior, tidy handling, economy
  • Interior a touch plain and dark, high rear boot lip

SEAT’s billing as the sporting division in Volkswagen’s brand portfolio has sometimes been a bit tough to stomach, but with the Leon that’s pretty much redeemed. There’s no denying that in sharing the majority of its underpinnings with its sister brands Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda there are similarities to how all these cars drive. However, the Leon is a credit to the Spanish firm’s chassis engineers in making the Leon that little bit more engaging.

Perhaps surprisingly it's the S and SE models that deliver the best ride and handling compromise on the road. Like all VW products based on the MQB chassis, the Leon is a composed performer through a series of corners. The steering lacks a little in feedback, but it features natural weighting and rate of response, allowing you to place the Leon accurately. There's strong grip and body control is remarkably good for a common or garden hatchback. In fact, the SEAT can be hustled along twisting back roads with remarkable poise.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

However, the FR versions are more of a mixed bag. Stiffened and lowered suspension promises a sportier driving experience, but the reality doesn't match the promise. The chief culprit is the suspension, which feels too firm yet offers no real benefits in roll resistance or body control. Bumpy roads that the SE flows down are more of an issue for the FR, which finds itself crashing and fidgeting along. Sharp ridges are a real problem as they send a jarring crash through the structure.

FR versions also get the XDS differential, which aims to mimic the effects of mechanical set-up by reducing understeer and boosting traction. It works effectively when specified as an option on lesser models, but on the FR you're more aware of it working away, nipping at the brakes to try and keep the car locked on your chosen line. Carry lots of speed into a corner and the system is so eager to engage that the braking effort actually slows the car, which is a little frustrating.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The FR also suffers from the same over servoed feel to the brakes that blighted its predecessor and makes stopping smoothly a challenge. Strangely, the smaller disc set-up of the SE has a more progressive and predictable pedal action.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/features/17660/the-best-four-cylinder-engines-ever-we-pick-our-favourites
Features

The best four-cylinder engines ever

We've gathered a selection of our very favourite four-pots ever produced
27 May 2020
Visit/bmw/4-series/201608/2020-bmw-4-series-revealed-new-coupe-range-topped-by-369bhp-m440i
BMW 4 Series

2020 BMW 4-series revealed – new coupe range topped by 369bhp M440i

The new 4-series Coupe is bigger, faster and sportier, but that’s not what people are talking about
2 Jun 2020
Visit/chevrolet/202690/c8-chevrolet-corvette-uk-prices-and-specifications-revealedchevrolets-new-mid
Chevrolet

C8 Chevrolet Corvette UK prices and specifications revealed

Chevrolet’s new mid-engined C8 Corvette is an American supercar for less
3 Jun 2020
Visit/used-cars/20402/cheap-fast-cars-2020-the-best-budget-performance-cars-on-the-market
used cars

Cheap fast cars 2020 – the best budget performance cars on the market

The cheap fast car is a wonderful thing, if you buy right and do your research. These are our favourites from £1000 to £10,000
4 Jun 2020