SINCE arriving on the scene back in 1999, the Leon has been the cornerstone of the SEAT range accounting for more than 2.2 million sales.
Now there is an all-new version and it really raises the bar.
There are six trim levels to choose from along with a choice of petrol, diesel, mild hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrains. The car is also available in hatchback or estate body styles with a price to suit all budgets.
We opted for the Leon SE Dynamic powered by a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre 110ps petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox in five-door hatchback guise.
This model, costing £20,955, could complete the 0-62mph dash in 10.9 seconds, topped out at 122mph and could deliver a combined 47.1-51.4mpg with carbon emissions of 126g/km.
The fourth generation Leon boasts a fresh new look with a stronger three-dimensional connection between the grille and headlights.
The bonnet is slightly longer and the windscreen pillars have moved backwards to improve driver visibility and add to the sporty appearance of the car. The rear end looks dynamic from any approach and the neat LED lights really help the car stand out.
Move inside and there is a minimalist feel to the Leon but it is generously equipped with technology and an impressive infotainment set-up. There are far fewer physical buttons with more focus on the 10-inch touchscreen for accessing systems on the move.
As part of a drive towards a more connected experience, the latest Leon from SE Dynamic upwards offers Online Connectivity, 3D connected navigation, retina display and voice control as well as gesture recognition. The Online Connectivity allows some infotainment functions to use real-time information from the cloud so drivers can be warned of accidents ahead, as well as details such as parking costs and availability plus lots of other useful information.
Creature comforts include the likes of a 10.25-inch configurable driver instrument cluster, a navigation system, full smartphone integration via Mirror Link, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, park assist with front and rear sensors, air conditioning and lots more besides.
One thing hasn't changed though and that's how much fun the Leon is to drive. SEAT has always been the sportier of the VW Group's brands and that is still just as apparent.
The SE Dynamic rides on 17-inch alloy wheels which feel like the perfect match out on the open road. The car is lively with plenty of acceleration out the blocks and is well balanced into long sweeping bends with impressive road holding and nicely weighted steering offering plenty of feedback.
The fairly firm suspension set-up means you can expect to feel a few bumps along the way, but otherwise comfort levels are good for all occupants and the vehicle is well insulated from engine, road surface and wind noise.
The latest Leon is slightly longer, a little narrower and a tad shorter than the outgoing model, but the wheelbase has increased by 50mm and that means extra legroom for rear passengers.
The boot capacity on the new Leon is identical to its predecessor at 380 litres, increasing to 1,210 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. If more space is needed, the new SEAT Leon Estate model has gained an extra 30 litres taking its boot capacity up to 617 litres with all seats in an upright position.
The Leon is the safest car SEAT has ever developed and recently received a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating. It boasts a wealth of systems and driver assist aids to help protect all occupants and help prevent accidents happening in the first place.
Another plus point is how well the Leon will hold its value. According to the experts, CAP HPI, after 36 months and 60,000 miles the Leon 1.5 TSI 130PS FR will retain 42 per cent of its value.