What if you could take everything that's good about the drive dynamics of a Volkswagen Golf - the superb ride, the excellent refinement, the exemplary at-the-wheel ergonomics, the smooth efficient engines - and replicate it all in a better value package with a slightly sportier feel? Such has always been the appeal of the SEAT Leon and in that regard, not much is different with this fourth generation version. It still steers and turns in a little more sharply than its Golf, Octavia and Audi A3 VW Group family hatch cousins that share the same engineering and MQB platform. And, as before, most mainstream versions continue to persist with an old-school torsion beam rear suspension set-up.
Which isn't to suggest that nothing has changed here. Quite the contrary. Take the engine range. Specify an auto gearbox with either the volume 110PS 1.0-litre TSI three cylinder unit or the 150PS 1.5-litre TSI EVO four cylinder petrol powerplant and you'll get the brand's latest 'eTSI' mild hybrid electrified technology. There's also now a PHEV full-Hybrid plug-in Leon, the e-HYBRID, which uses a 150PS 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine mated to a 6-speed DSG auto gearbox and an 85kW electric motor, powered by a 13kWh lithium-ion battery that when fully charged can deliver a WLTP-rated all-electric driving range of up to 36 miles.
Most Leon customers though, will be wanting an engine of the more conventional kind, which if you want to stay with manual transmission is what you'll have to have. With a stick shift fitted, in addition to conventional versions of the two TSI petrol engines just mentioned, you can opt for a de-tuned 130PS version of that 1.5 TSI EVO petrol unit. If you're happy with a DSG auto, SEAT's 2.0-litre TSI 190PS powerplant is available from 'FR' spec upwards.
You'll also be offered the option of diesel power - there are two versions of the latest cleaner, more efficient VW Group 2.0 TDI 'twin dosing' unit, offering either 116 or 150PS. At the top of the range lies the CUPRA Leon hot hatch variant, which can be had with either an uprated 245PS version of that 1.4-litre Plug-in Hybrid powertrain we just mentioned. Or with a conventional 2.0-litre TSI petrol unit, developing either 245PS in front-driven conventional hatch form or 310PS in 4WD Estate guise.