In the compact class, the Golf is still the king. But his crown princes from their own relatives sometimes shake the throne. Also the descendant from Spain.
The Seat Leon has been part of the German street scene since 1999. The fourth generation has been available since April 2020. It is based on the Golf 8 and the Group's modular transverse toolkit, along with a new digitization platform. What do the Spaniards do differently than the gene donor? A test with the Leon as 1.5 eTSI (from around 28.318 euros) shows differences, but also similarities.
Seat: the expressive opposite of golf
As always, Seat attaches great importance to design. Where the Golf with unpretentious - some also say boring - shapes has been successful for decades, the Leon with its expressive appearance appeals to the more expressive clientele. It starts with the eye-catching radiator grille and successful light graphics, continues with the striking beading and edges in the sheet metal and ends at the rear, among other things, with the continuous LED light strip between the rear lights. Overall, the exterior design is coherent, our test car in the chic "FR" equipment line was particularly positive to younger viewers.
The Leon outdoes the Golf not only in terms of its expressiveness. With a length of 4,37 meters, it is 9 centimeters longer than the compact one from Wolfsburg. When it comes to the wheelbase (2,68 meters), the Seat trumps with a plus of four centimeters. This gain is particularly noticeable for the rear passengers. At least two can find a comfortable spot here, and there is nothing to complain about in terms of headroom. The trunk (380 to 1.300 liters) offers class-standard capacity. The front is pretty airy anyway.
There is room for improvement in the look and feel of the materials used. It could well be better, a point of criticism that also applies to the current generation of Golf.
Our test car drove up with all sorts of technical gadgets, including the freely configurable virtual cockpit and a large display for operating the air conditioning, navigation system or radio. The few control buttons are nice to look at, but difficult to hit. You have to like that. Fortunately, there are alternatives: The voice control worked perfectly; the lady in the system reliably entered destinations in the navigation system, regulated the room temperature according to our wishes and changed the radio stations according to our specifications. There were no problems with the electronics, but after starting the engine it took some time until everything, such as the reversing camera, was ready for use.
You have the choice between diesel and battery
Speaking of the engine: the 1,5-liter turbo gasoline engine with 110 kW / 150 PS also comes from the group shelf. As an eTSi, it has fuel-saving technologies such as mild hybrid support and cylinder deactivation and, apart from the 150 kW / 204 hp plug-in hybrids, is the most potent gasoline engine in the Leon range. This includes a 1,0-liter three-cylinder in the expansion stages with 66 kW / 90 PS and 81 kW / 110 PS and the 1,5 TSI with 96 kW / 130 PS. There is also a two-liter diesel in the expansion stages with 85 kW / 115 PS and 150 PS.
The eTSi has no problems accelerating the almost 1,4 ton compact car. The horses are woken up with gentle pressure on the gas pedal, with a little more emphasis it gets down to business. The seven-speed double clutch drive acts quickly and inconspicuously. The engine's technical equipment also includes a small lithium-ion battery in which the energy recovered when braking is stored. This extra energy enables short-term boosting and contributes to the lively driving experience.
The complex engine technology serves to save fuel. According to the WLTP, the Leon consumes 5,9 liters. And in fact, this value can easily be undercut with leisurely cruising, in the mix with fast motorway stretches we used 6,2 liters.
The vehicle lies well on the road, but the sports suspension that comes as standard with the FR equipment is sometimes a little too good at implementing the toughness, which is seen as sporty. Part of the perceived hardness may also be caused by the raised 18-inch device (surcharge: around 660 euros). Using the on-board adaptive chassis control (surcharge: almost 800 euros), the bumps can be reduced with the "Comfort" setting. Or you can do without the 18 incher. 17-inch aluminum is part of the FR line, which has important features such as three-zone air conditioning and the virtual cockpit on board. However, navigation or an extension of the wizards must be paid for separately. By the way, those who do without the “e” have to pay 1.5 euros less for the 150 TSI with 2.400 hp and manual six-speed gearbox. Seat indicates the consumption here with 5,8 to 6 liters (WLTP).
Seat Leon 1.5 eTSI - Technical Specifications
Five-door, five-seat compact hatchback sedan; Length: 4,37 meters, width: 1,80 meters (width with exterior mirrors: 1,99 meters), height: 1,44 meters, wheelbase: 2,68 meters, trunk volume: 380 - 1.300 liters
1.5 eTSI: 1,5-liter turbo with mild hybrid support and cylinder deactivation, 110 kW / 150 PS, maximum torque: 250 Nm at 1.500 - 3.500 rpm, seven-speed DSG, 0-100 km / h: 8,4 s, Vmax: 221 km / h, standard consumption WLTP: 5,9 - 6,0 liters / 100 kilometers, CO2 emissions: 155 - 162 g / km, emissions standard: Euro 6 DG, efficiency class: A, test consumption: 6,2 liters / 100 kilometers, price: 28.317,65 euros
Seat Leon 1.5eTSI - brief characteristics
Why: looks good and is economical
Why not: could be higher quality
What else: Ford Focus, Opel Astra and of course the VW Golf