Seat Leon 1P, an almost perfect car. A car that I love 80%, but the remaining 20% is way too much for me to accept. Seat Leon 1P, that child who missed the place at the national Olympics by a millimeter. Seat Leon 1P, that bombshell from high school that looks perfect and that you put on a pedestal, only to find out when you take her out on a date that she burps and farts at the same time. And her burps put any man to shame.

Arriving in 2005 to break the market’s back, the Seat Leon 1P was an instant success for the Spaniards. Designed by Geo da Silva…sorry…Walter da Silva, the guy responsible for Alfa Romeo 156, Audi R8, all VW models from 2009-2010 and many other wacky things, Seat Leon 1P looks very, very fresh. In fact, even today a Seat Leon 1P looks fresh and arguably better than its successor.

Seat Leon 1P – Almost a perfect car

Blessed with looks that would make even Lazar Angelov jealous, having all the technology available on the VW Golf, with engines starting from a modest 86 horsepower up to wacky 310 horsepower, having more special editions than Pagani cars and being overall a car of decent reliability.

And then they dropped this interior. This interior. This dashboard is like a pizza forgotten in the sun, which has spread itself onto any surface it got hold of. With some outdated buttons and a display placed low so that you can’t look at it without taking your eyes off the road, with a gray worthy of AliExpress, with a combination of colors that if you ate and digested and then violently eliminated through the digestive tract, you would still get a happier combination. Coming up with that bombshell exterior but with that interior – should be classified as a crime. Having such a good exterior and such a bad interior is like having a jar of Nutella but which is full of dirt. Or a Royal Danks Danish Butter Cookies container in which you find sewing kits. Seat Leon 1P is like a dump truck – it looks very good on the outside, but I’m not very passionate about the interior.

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Seat Leon 1P Engines


  • 1.2 TSI EA111 of 105 horsepower – The fairly modest 1.2 TSI is a semi-suitable engine for the city, but suffers from the issues of the first generation TSI engines of which we will talk about in the general issues section.
  • 1.4 MPI of 86 horsepower – Too small, too gutless for the Seat Leon 1P’s looks. It’s like putting Kane on Rey Misterio’s back. Add another 500 euros to your budget and go for something more powerful. But atleast it’s naturally aspirated and fairly reliable so atleast it’s got that going for it. And it’s a decent engine for the school run but that’s about it.
  • 1.4 TSI EA111 of 122 horsepower – You could say that it is a decent engine, and you would be wrong. Due to reliability issues, I cannot particularly recommend it.
  • 1.6 MPI EA113 of 102 horsepower – If you are not a fan of technology and/or sportiness, the ancient 1.6 MPI does its job decently. Reliable, with only coil packs, occasional oil consumption and idle shaking issues, this relic retires heroically on the Seat Leon 1P. If you don’t want a complicated engine, this engine is for you.
  • 1.8 TSI EA888 of 160 horsepower – The well-known and explosive 1.8TSI also comes under the hood of the Seat Leon 1P. A sensational engine, with occasional issues with the coil packs and with an above-average oil consumption, this engine is the first in the “proper engines for Seat Leon” category. Because the Seat Leon has always been the sporty alternative to the conservative VW Golf and the practical Skoda Octavia, cars with which it shared the construction platform. Mind you, the oil consumption can get really troublesome on older engines so make sure you’re fine with it.
  • 2.0 FSI EA113 of 150 horsepower – A simple engine in design, which offers performance without hassle. Instead, pay attention to the fact that it occasionally needs a fill-up with quality petrol, the fuel economy is not something to write home about and the LPG installations work on a mix of 30% petrol and 70% LPG and are much more expensive to install so altogether not worth it.
  • 2.0 TSI EA888 of 185 horsepower – I put it separately from the other 2.0 TSI units because this engine is unique to the Seat Leon 1P. Thought of as a less powerful but more reliable version, this engine is as balanced as it is rare. By far the most balanced engine for the Seat Leon 1P.
  • 2.0 TSI EA113 of 200, 209, 241, 265, 286 and 301 horsepower – 2.0 TSI came in so many flavors because it came with the following special editions: FR, Cupra, Cupra R, Copa Edition and Cupra 310 Limited Edition. Sensational engines, just to pay attention to the oil consumption which can reach 1 liter / 1000km.


  • 1.6 TDI EA189 of 105 horsepower – No. Not. 3 times no. Absolutely not. I’d rather have Simon Cowell give me a lapdance than drive a 1.6 TDI. I discussed this mechanical failure extensively in the VW Golf VI review. Serious reliability issues with EGR, particle filtre, high pressure fuel pump and injectors.
  • 1.9 TDI EA188 of 90 and 105 horsepower – The old 1.9 TDI is joined by 1.6 MPI and 1.4 MPI to give their final hurrah. Very capable engines, coming from an era where cars were built to last. Yes, the old 1.9 TDI is a bit anemic and has problems with engine mounts and camshaft wear when we’re talking Star Wars-worthy miles, but at least these engines will be friendly with you and your bank account.
  • 2.0 TDI EA188 of 136, 140 and 170 horsepower – You thought that the 2.0 TDI had problems, and you would be wrong. If the 2.0 TDI has serious issues in the VW Passat B6 or the A4 B7 engine codes, things are more relaxed with the Seat Leon 1P. As with the Golf VI or A3 8P, these 2.0 TDIs are reliable and without specific issues, just the common modern VW diesel stuff.

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Seat Leon 1P Reliability Issues

  • That interior that looks like….no…I can’t even.
  • The first generation TSI engines had timing chain and issues with both the timing chain and the tensioners. The tensioner loosens, the chain skips and dances and enters the engine, causing total damage. Specifically targeted are the 1.2 TSI and 1.4 TSI engines. Later versions came with timing belt drive, solving the problem.
  • All the diesel engines (except 1.9 TDI) come equipped with a double mass flywheel. This decision was made because the double mass steering wheel is quieter and the car is overall more comfortable. Be careful, however, that dual-mass flywheels from VW have a shorter lifespan than the rest, and dual-mass flywheels are expensive, regardless of the manufacturer.
  • For diesel engines, you have to be careful with the particle filtre, which clogs more often than you would like and has a shorter lifespan that what other manufacturers bought. Alternatively, if you are a creative mechanic, the day after you bought your Seat Leon 1P,  go to the service center and remove the particle filtre. DPF Off, EGR Off. #balkans.
  • The DSG automatic gearboxes from this period have issues with the Mechatronic unit, which acts as the gearbox’s computer. Also, regardless of whether we are talking about DSG6 or DSG7, the oil and the microfilter must be changed at 37,000 miles / 60,000kms.
  • Special mention to the ABS pump and especially the G201 sensor which are known issues with the Golf VI, and the Seat Leon 1P didn’t get spared. 

Seat Leon 1P Cupra almostcarreviews

Seat Leon 1P Verdict

A car hard to ignore on the used market. Built with the same materials as a VW Golf, it looks better than a Golf ( on the outside atleast) and is cheaper than the Golf. If you can get over that melted pizza dashboard, then the Seat Leon 1P is one of the best used cars of the moment, along with the Audi A3 8P and the Renault Megane III. I actually seriously considered a Seat Leon 1P for myself at one time, but I couldn’t get past that interior.