The days of picking up low-mileage, second-hand Seats for a song are long gone. When the Leon was released in 2005, predicted resale values were strong – maybe not quite up to VW Golf levels, but certainly better than the equivalent Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra. So, a used Leon can look quite dear.
Servicing costs aren’t exactly low, either, but they are still reasonable. The 10,000-mile service intervals are not as lengthy as those of a Vauxhall Astra, which can in theory run for up to two years or 20,000 miles before needing attention.
Similarly, if you need to pay for repairs at a Seat dealer, you’ll be charged a slightly higher hourly rate than at a Ford, Vauxhall or even Volkswagen franchise.
Some people will absolutely cherish their hot Leon FRs, and yet others will undoubtedly rev them within an inch of their life. Happily, both the 2.0-litre FSI turbo petrol and the 2.0 HDI turbo diesel can take a lot of abuse, but you still need to be careful.
Check that the petrol engine isn’t noisy on start-up because it should be capable of idling very quietly. You can’t expect the same level of refinement from the diesel, but what you don’t want to see is a lot of black smoke from the exhaust when you put your foot on the accelerator.
With either FR version, you’ll have to put up with a horrid, oversized gear lever, but don’t put up with an abused gearbox or slipping clutch, check both out thoroughly on a test drive before handing over any cash. Ensure the suspension feels right, too, and that the brake discs are not warped.
Which used Seat Leon should I buy?
All models get electronic traction control and state-of-the-art brakes, along with front, side and curtain airbags as standard. Entry-level Essence trim skimps a little on kit, but even so, you get electric front windows, a CD player and spilt folding rear seats.
Reference adds air-conditioning, while Stylance, our recommended trim, provides rear electric windows and cruise control. Sport and FR are the two top trims available.
The most powerful engine is the 197bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged, direct-injection petrol unit, which is found in various sporting VWs, Audis and Skodas. This and its 168bhp 2.0 TDI diesel stablemate power the hot FR versions that were released in June 2006.
The 140bhp 2.0 diesel is our favourite engine overall, as the 105bhp 1.9 diesel suffers from a narrow powerband. And, of the two remaining petrol engines, we prefer the 1.6-litre 101bhp unit over the 2.0-litre 150bhp engine.
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