SEAT Leon Estate Review 2023

Written by Andy Brady

heycar ratingSporty alternative to an SUV
  • 2020
  • Estate
  • Petrol, Diesel, PHEV

Quick overview


  • Sharp handling
  • Efficient engines
  • Excellent value for money


  • Infotainment is irritating on the move
  • Sports suspension isn't the most comfortable
  • A Skoda Octavia Estate is more practical

Overall verdict on the SEAT Leon Estate

"The SEAT Leon Estate manages to be both sporty and practical, with a touch of premium-ness chucked in for good measure. It's not going to break the bank, either, with competitive list prices and a range of efficient petrol and hybrid engines."

SEAT Leon Estate Review 2023: Driving

If you're searching for a new family car, you'll have noticed that the market is dominated by small SUVs like the SEAT Ateca, Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage. While these are all hard to fault, you shouldn't overlook the humble estate car, such as the Seat Leon Estate we're reviewing here.

The Seat Leon is very similar to the Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia (it shares its mechanical bits with both), yet with a healthy dose of Spanish flair. And it majors on affordability – with as-new, well-specced pre-registered models on the market now for around £23,000. That sort of money won't go far in the world of SUVs.

It doesn't feel like a cheap option, though. SEAT's pretty generous with its standard equipment (and doesn't really do optional extras), so even the most basic Leon Estate SE comes with alloy wheels, metallic paint and LED headlights. Inside, there's an 8.25-inch media system and some chrome interior detailing, while all models come with cruise control, keyless start and rear parking sensors.

Most buyers will stretch to the stylish Leon Estate FR but, with its harsh sports suspension and borderline-irritating ambient lighting, it's not where our money would go. One of the plusher Xcellence or Xcellence Lux models will do a far better job of imitating a Golf, but without a Golf price tag.


Whichever model you choose, the Seat Leon Estate gets a stylish interior that feels well-finished. It's a very comfortable choice, too – an important factor in a car that's popular with high-mileage motorway drivers. The seats are supportive, with loads of adjustment (including standard-fit adjustable lumbar support), while you won't find space lacking.

Indeed, there's enough room up front for a pair of tall adults and plenty of useful little stowage areas to keep your odds and ends. Three adults in the back will be a squeeze (although it's doable) – a pair of adults or children won't have any cause for complaint, however, and there's more legroom in the back of the Leon than there is in the Golf. 

With up to 620 litres of space, the Leon Estate has a huge boot (only beaten by the Skoda Octavia in this class). You can cram an extra 240 litres of luggage in the back of a Leon Estate compared to the hatch, which is quite a significant difference. It's bigger than the Ateca's boot, too.

While the Octavia might be a slightly more practical option, the Leon Estate's speciality is how it drives. It's really good fun on open roads, with loads of grip and precise steering. Surprisingly, SEAT's delaying the launch of a diesel model – initially, it's available with petrol, mild-hybrid or plug-in hybrid power.

The Volkswagen Group's popular 1.5-litre petrol is the mainstay of the range. The most affordable Leon Estate comes with a 130PS version, while pricier models see power upped to 150PS. This is available with a manual or DSG automatic gearbox – while the latter comes with mild-hybrid technology. Don't expect to silently drive this about under electric power, but it helps improve fuel economy and refinement.

There's also a plug-in hybrid model badged the e-Hybrid. When charged, this can cover up to 38 miles under electric power alone – great if you have a short commute or regularly drive in town centres.

If you're looking for the older version, you need our SEAT Leon ST (2014-2020) review.

Whether you're a growing family, a loving dog owner or just need a big boot for your weekly shop, the SEAT Leon Estate is a strong alternative to the usual mix of crossover SUVs. It's not quite as spacious as the Skoda Octavia Estate (although you'll struggle to tell the difference in the real-world), while bigger estate cars like the Volkswagen Passat might be a better option if you really need as much space as possible.

The only real incentive for buying an SUV is that taller body and higher driving position, which is proving popular among buyers. In all other respects, though, an equivalent estate is a more accomplished offering, being better to drive, more efficient and faster.

All trim levels come well-equipped, and even the most affordable Seat Leon Estate SE comes with pretty much everything you could possibly need as standard. If you're on a budget go for this – even the entry-level 130PS 1.5-litre petrol is a fine choice.

That said, we reckon the high-spec Xcellence and Xcellence Lux models are particularly appealing yet still represent good value for money compared to the pricier Volkswagen Golf. With features like leather seats and an electric tailgate, top-spec models feel that bit more special.

The 2.0-litre diesel's impressive motorway fuel economy will make it the pick for buyers who intend on doing thousands of miles a month. On the other than, the eHybrid plug-in petrol-electric model is perfect for about-town running if you have the ability to charge at home. But, really, that 1.5-litre petrol is an excellent all-rounder. 

If you're considering the SEAT Leon Estate, you should also be looking at estate versions of the (very similar) Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia. The former is more expensive while the latter is slightly bigger, and though neither is as good to drive the Golf is a bit more refined. 

Then there's the Ford Focus Estate, which majors on drivability, and the classy but ageing Peugeot 308 SW (although the new model is on the way) along with the stylish Renault Megane Sport Tourer

It's also worth considering the Kia Ceed Sportswagon, Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and Hyundai i30 Tourer or, if a hybrid appeals, the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports (silly name, good car). And that's before we get to the vast amount of practical family SUVs on the market. 

Comfort and design: SEAT Leon Estate interior

"The SEAT Leon Estate's cabin has a number of distinct similarities with the Volkswagen Golf, but everything's just a little more angular. It's not exactly homely but it does look modern and cool, and quality is generally pretty good."

SEAT Leon Estate Review 2023: interior cabin

As is the trend at the moment, you'll notice the SEAT Leon Estate's dashboard is almost entirely button-less. Pretty much everything is controlled through the central infotainment system, while a touch-sensitive pad is used for adjusting the temperature of the climate control. This doesn't always respond and can be annoying to use – especially when it's dark, because it isn't backlit, or you're trying to concentrate on the task of driving. 

To add to this, FR models come with fancy lighting in the form of a light bar across the dashboard. Sure, it has the wow factor, but it soon gets irritating when you're trying to drive the car at night. You can turn it off (we did), but that requires navigating the many menus of the media system. On the plus side, it's not all about aesthetics. Part of it will change colour when there's a car in your blind spot, for example, which is a pretty cool safety feature.

These gripes aside, the Leon Estate has a very comfortable cabin. The seats are supportive enough on long journeys (helped by adjustable lumbar support which is standard across the range), while they'll keep you in place during enthusiastic cornering. There's plenty of adjustment in the seats and steering wheel to accommodate the majority of drivers, while the pedals are perfectly placed.

The SEAT Leon Estate feels almost as plush inside as the Volkswagen Golf, which itself is top of the class in terms of finish. There's an abundance of squishy materials and we get the impression that it will wear well over years of family life. You'll find a few harsh plastics here and there (the centre console feels particularly brittle if you bang your knee on it), but it's an improvement over the previous model.

Even the basic SEAT Leon Estate SE model doesn't look that entry-level inside, with its chrome detailing and two-tone cloth upholstery, although some cost-cutting is evident. Upgrade to the FR and you get ambient lighting (as we've mentioned...), while the FR Sport starts to feel particularly upmarket. This comes with heated front seats, a heated leather steering wheel and sporty microsuede upholstery.

The posh SEAT Leon Estate Xcellence trim gets these features, too, while the top-spec Xcellence Lux adds desirable leather seats as standard.

Technology has taken a huge leap forward with the latest SEAT Leon Estate, but we're not entirely convinced about its execution.

As we mentioned above, you can adjust the temperature using a touch bar below the main infotainment display. This is the kind of thing which will look cool when demonstrated at a dealership but, the first time you try it on a rainy motorway, you'll realise that a simple knob is much easier. We're baffled as to why SEAT didn't make the bar backlit either, as it's totally unusable at night. 

Most models come with a 10-inch navigation system which is well-positioned for glancing at while on the move, and looks pretty sharp with slick graphics. Again, though, it's just not that useable. It doesn't help that things like the selectable drive modes can only be changed by traipsing through menus, or you can use the voice control function. This is woken up by saying 'Hola, Hola', which is gimmicky and even a bit embarrassing.

While the Skoda Octavia shares an infotainment system with the Leon, it does have at least have a bank of buttons below it providing easy access to safety-critical features.

All models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while wireless phone charging is standard on all but SE and SE Dynamic trim levels.

Even though family buyers are now sold on SUVs, the humble estate car is still a hugely practical choice. The SEAT Leon Estate can carry an impressive 620 litres of luggage – that's 110 litres more than a SEAT Ateca. Sure, the Skoda Octavia Estate continues to take the plaudits for boot space in this class, but most people will be pleasantly surprised by how roomy the Leon wagon is.

There are further advantages to the Leon Estate over a crossover alternative, too. The boot lip is much lower than you'd get in an Ateca, meaning it's much easier to lift items in. If you wish to transport a dog, they'll find jumping in much easier, too. Unfortunately, only top-spec Xcellence Lux models come with an electric tailgate, which will be a desirable feature when trying to open the boot while juggling shopping bags.

If boot space is important, you should think twice about an e-Hybrid model. This loses some of its boot space in order to cater for the batteries, leaving just 470 litres of luggage space. That's still 90 litres more than a petrol hatch, however. 

Luggage capacity aside, the Leon's a spacious car. There's enough room up front for the tallest of adults, and there are plenty of storage areas in the cabin. A pair of adults will be comfortable in the back, too, and there are Isofix child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats. 

The Seat Leon Estate's dimensions are broadly comparable with rivals, at 4,642mm long, 1,799mm wide and 1,437mm tall. Despite its impressive practicality it's actually shorter than the less spacious Ford Focus Estate. 

Handling and ride quality: What is the SEAT Leon Estate like to drive?

"Although the SEAT Leon is mechanically very similar to the Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia, it's the sportiest of the trio in terms of handling. Even with the extra mass of the estate model, it remains very composed on twisty sections of road while the steering is sharp and direct."

SEAT Leon Estate Review 2023: rear

The SEAT Leon Estate good around town, with steering that doesn't require arms like Popeye and reasonable visibility. And even the most affordable model comes with rear parking sensors, while SE Dynamic models and above get them at the front, too. If you've got a particularly tight driveway or negotiating a multi-storey car park is enough to give you anxiety, look for an Xcellence (or Xcellence Lux) model with the rear-view camera. 

Out of town, the FR model (with its sports suspension) corners almost as well as the Ford Focus Estate – the wagon of choice for the most enthusiastic drivers. Of course, if you do buy a Leon Estate with the sports suspension, you'll have to be prepared for a few bumps to make their way into the cabin. It's not uncomfortable but it is definitely on the firm side, something you ought to bear in mind if you live in an area with a lot of speed bumps or broken road surfaces.

Even with its standard suspension setup, the Leon Estate isn't as smooth-riding as the Volkswagen Golf or Skoda Octavia. The firmest model in the range is the e-Hybrid, which is understandable as it has to cope with the extra weight of its batteries. 

Considering a lot of Leon Estate buyers will be looking for a car to trawl the motorway network, SEAT's was a bit tardy in adding a diesel to the range. A 2.0-litre diesel with 115PS was added in 2021, but that does mean used models are rarer and more expensive. We've yet to try that engine in the Leon, but in other applications it's punchy and economical. 

The Leon hatch is offered with a reasonably nippy little 1.0-litre petrol unit, but the entry-level estate is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol producing 130PS.  The big seller, though, will be the 150PS version of the same engine – available with or without mild-hybrid technology (the latter badged the eTSI and with a DSG automatic gearbox as standard).

We've tried the 150PS 1.5 eTSI petrol and its performance is very similar to any other mid-range petrol engine offered in rival estate cars. It might be hybrid by name, but it's not really hybrid by nature – it can't run under electric power alone and you won't really notice a difference in the way it drives. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 8.7 seconds which isn't anything special (and only a tenth of a second quicker than the standard 1.5 TSI) – but few buyers will find it lacking.

Like a lot of dual-clutch automatic gearboxes, the DSG transmission can become flustered at times but, generally, it's perfectly acceptable.

There's also a plug-in hybrid model, badged the e-Hybrid. This combines a 1.4-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, producing an impressive 204PS in total. This is the quickest of the bunch, accelerating from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds. Of course, most buyers will be considering the Leon Estate e-Hybrid for its low running costs (and eco-credentials) rather than its pace. We'll come onto that below.

The SEAT Leon Estate does a good job of mimicking a bigger, pricier car in terms of refinement. Very little wind or engine noise makes its way into the cabin, although the sports suspension and 17-inch wheels of on FR cars do transmit a little more road noise than we'd really like. That said, it's nothing that isn't drowned out by the radio easily enough.

For a truly civilised experience – especially around town – opt for the plug-in hybrid model. This can travel for up to 38 miles before the petrol engine kicks in, meaning you'll bimble around town in silence. 

Euro NCAP – the body which crash tests all new cars – is yet to get its hands on the new SEAT Leon Estate. We'd be very surprised if it achieved anything less than the full five stars, though, especially as the hatchback version has been awarded top marks. 

There's a load of clever safety tech available on the Leon Estate and – pleasingly – it's not just the preserve of expensive high-spec models. All trim levels come with SEAT's front assist system, which uses radars to detect traffic ahead. If it detects an impending collision, it warns the driver and will even apply the brakes if required.

A lane-keeping assistant is also standard (although, in our experience, this is more an irritant than actually useful – while turning it off will trigger an annoying warning light on the dashboard). The Leon Estate also comes with Isofix points on outer rear seats, making fitting child seats, erm, child's play.

Opt for a high-spec Leon Xcellence Lux and it comes with the Safety and Driving Pack, which consists of predictive and adaptive cruise control (including a speed limiter), high beam assist and dynamic road sign display.

MPG and fuel costs: What does a SEAT Leon Estate cost to run?

"Flick through a brochure for a SEAT Leon Estate and the e-Hybrid's fuel economy stats will jump out. Officially, the plug-in hybrid returns up to 235.4mpg – a rather incredible figure, but one that's very dependent on how often you actually plug the car in."

SEAT Leon Estate Review 2023: rear-side

Charging the SEAT Leon Estate e-Hybrid will take around four hours using a home charger and, when it's fully topped up, you'll be able to drive for up to 38 miles before it runs out of juice. That should be sufficient for popping to the shops, driving to work or taking the kids to school. When you need to travel further afield, the Leon will obviously be capable of that, too – but don't expect to see 235.4mpg on a long journey without regular charging stops. 

Plug-in hybrid aside, the 130PS 1.5-litre petrol is most efficient (officially capable of up to 51.4mpg), while the 150PS version returns up to 47.9mpg (with or without mild-hybrid tech).

If you really need an ultra-frugal Leon Estate capable of covering long journeys on only a thimble of fuel, the 2.0-litre TDI diesel promises to return over 60mpg. 

SEAT was the lowest performing VW Group brand in the latest Satisfaction Index. While that could be cause for concern, we know that the Leon Estate's basic mechanicals and electrical systems are shared pretty much wholesale with its sibling cars from VW and Skoda. 

It's not been on sale for that long, meaning reliability issues haven't really had time to emerge. However, the VW Group has had problems with its latest infotainment system found in the Leon, which can glitch and freeze, requiring an update from the dealer. 

The SEAT Leon Estate's insurance groups range from 18E to 23E, depending on specification and engine choice. The cheapest SEAT Leon Estate to insure will be a basic SE model with the 130PS 1.5-litre TSI engine. It's worth noting that the estate's insurance groups are broadly in line with the hatchback, so the extra boot space shouldn't contribute to higher premiums.

Insurance groups for the e-Hybrid models range from 26 to 27, making them the priciest to insure due to their complexity and the performance on offer. Don't let that put you off, though – no Leon Estate should cost the earth in insurance unless you're a particularly young or inexperienced driver.

The first year's VED (car tax) is based on CO2 emissions and lumped into the on-the-road price. That means, unless you're buying brand new, you won't have to worry about it. Even if you are, the Seat Leon Estate's pretty efficient so only a small proportion (up to £215) of the list price will be heading to the treasury.

After the first year, plug-in hybrid (e-Hybrid) and mild-hybrid (eTSI) models will attract a flat VED rate of £140 a year. All other models will set you back £150 every 12 months. That's comparable to rivals so don't let tax influence your buying decision.

How much should you be paying for a used SEAT Leon Estate?

"Prices of used cars are holding firm at the moment, so even two year-old SEAT Leon Estates are fetching around £20,000 as a base line. Most examples for sale are well-specced rather than entry-level, however."

SEAT Leon Estate Review 2023: side profile

Having been on sale for a couple of years, you'd think that affordable SEAT Leon Estates were easy to come by. But with used car prices holding firm at the moment, discounts aren't all that great. 

Prices start from around £20,000 for a mid-spec 1.5 TSI petrol model with about 15,000 miles on the clock, rising to anything up to £30,000 for a top-spec eHybrid model. There are very few diesels on the market, partly due to the decreasing popularity of the fuel and partly due to SEAT only putting it on sale in mid-2021. 

As more early examples begin to fall out of the usual three-year lease period, however, expect to see availability increase and prices fall. 

As SEAT doesn't offer extensive options lists, all SEAT Leon Estate models are pretty comprehensively equipped.

The SEAT Leon Estate SE covers the basics with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights (and taillights) and metallic paint. Inside, there's an 8.25-inch media system with DAB radio, Bluetooth and smartphone integration (including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto).

There's some chrome interior detailing, cloth seats and manual height adjustment for the driver and passenger. Electric windows (front and rear) are standard, as well as rear parking sensors. There's also cruise control, keyless start, front assist and Isofix points on the outer rear seats.

Building on this, the SEAT Leon Estate SE Dynamic looks a bit sharper with 17-inch alloy wheels and tinted rear windows. It also gets an upgraded 10-inch media system as well as a digital cockpit. Front parking sensors are chucked in, too.

The SEAT Leon Estate FR also looks pretty stylish. It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with dynamic turn signals and bespoke bumpers. The door mirrors are electrically adjustable, foldable and heated, while the wipers are rain-sensing. Inside, it comes with four Type-C USB ports, a wireless phone charger, ambient lighting and three-zone climate control. SEAT's drive profile selection provides four different drive modes, while sports suspension is also standard.

The sporty SEAT Leon FR Sport builds on this with 18-inch alloy wheels, interior wraparound lighting, heated front seats, a leather steering wheel (also heated) and microsuede upholstery. There's a powered driver seat as standard including lumbar adjustment (manual for the passenger).

The posh SEAT Leon Estate Xcellence features 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, a leather steering wheel (heated), microsuede upholstery, a powered driver seat (with lumbar adjustment), three-zone climate control, a rear-view camera and SEAT drive profile selection.

Topping the range is the Leon Estate Xcellece Lux. Highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels, interior wraparound lighting, leather seats, electric tailgate and the Safety and Driving Pack (with dynamic road sign display, high-beam assist and predictive cruise control). 

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

The SEAT Leon Estate is a very competitive car compared to rivals like the Ford Focus Estate, Vauxhall Astra Estate and Kia Ceed Sportswagon. It's good to drive, affordable to run and has an excellent interior. Going against it is the slightly frustrating media system.
The SEAT Leon Estate is a very practical car. It can carry 617 litres of luggage in the boot – up 30 litres compared to the SEAT Leon ST it replaced. That's slightly bigger than the very similar Volkswagen Golf Estate (which provides 611 litres of boot space), while the huge Skoda Octavia Estate provides a generous 640 litres of space.
The SEAT Leon Estate is manufactured at the brand's Martorell plant in Barcelona, Spain. It shares many parts, including a platform, with other Volkswagen Group vehicles including the Skoda Octavia and SEAT Leon.
The estate version of the SEAT Leon used to badged 'ST' for 'sports tourer'. While the old model is named the SEAT Leon ST, the latest version, launched in 2020, is simply known as the SEAT Leon Estate.

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