Maybe the Seat Leon 5F has lost it’s George Clooney charm and is no longer the sporty brother of the Golf – Leon – Octavia trio, and maybe it’s not even a cheaper alternative to the Golf…ok, I guess I have to find something positive about this car..
Unlike the Seat Leon 5F, the original Leon really had something special about it when it was launched. It was a cheaper yet better Golf. Even if the underpinnings were approximately the same, the exterior was far superior to the Golf, a car that was drawn only with a pencil and a ruler. Then you also had the interior taken from the Audi A3, but the party piece was the glorious 1.8 Turbocharged petrol that went up to 225 horsepower stock and to infinity and beyond when tuned, leaving behind the lazy Golf GTI and it’s modest 180 horsepower. In fact, that 225 horsepower 1.8T was only available on the Seat Leon Cupra R and Audi TT, from the entire VAG group.
Then came about the second generation Leon, which I don’t talk about because I always get slight nausea and foam at the mouth when I remember its interior, and in 2013 the Seat Leon 5F appeared and I can’t quite tell what the difference is between the Golf and the Leon, apart from the appearance. You see, Seat was completely absorbed in the VW culture and now you don’t know the difference between them but not as self absorbed as Simon Cowell.
Go to the used market however, then things change so drastically that we have to call Chris Tucker to emphasise just how dramatic it is. At the time I wrote this article, at the end of May 2021, from the bench next to the pavilion in the courtyard of Solihul Mental Ward, Unit 1 B1 50 Summer Hill Road Birmingham B1 3RB, the cheapest Seat Leon 5F costs 5,999 pounds, a 2013 1.2 TSI with 110,000 miles. The cheapest Golf VII costs 5,999 pounds, also a 2013 1.2 TSI but with 130,000 miles on the clock. Then at least you stay with exclusivity?
Seat Leon 5F Engines
- 1.2 TSI of 85, 105 and 110 horsepower – No. Under no circumstance, shape of form. Not even the Sofia Vergara’s forms. No. No. NO. Besides the fact that it is insufficient for the Seat Leon 5F, it is also full of issues. No.
- 1.4 TSI of 125, 140 and 150 horsepower – Many people consider the 150 horsepower 1.4 TSI to be one of the best engines built by the VAG group in recent history. Plus, the 125 horsepower version is used on absolutely all hybrid cars from VW, such as Jetta or Passat GTE. Definitely worth the money. It’s also belt driven so no more timing chain issues and very few issues altogether.
- 1.5 TSI of 150 horsepower – Arriving in 2018 to retire the 1.4 TSI, this engine was supposed to be the rescue but ended up being rescued by the AA every 500 meters. Just like a new employee who has no experience but has to replace a long-time employee who left without notice, this engine does exactly as much work as you’d expect.
- 1.8 TSI of 180 horsepower – Launched 3000 years ago, this 1.8 TSI is the continuation of the same 1.8T from the original Leon. Famous for its rather worrying oil consumption, VW promises us that in 2014 they solved the problem and theoretically this engine should not chugg down oil. But should we take their word for good?
- 2.0 TSI of 1 billion horsepower – Much like the 1.8 TSI, the 2.0 TSI is supposed to have been solved since 2014 on the oil consumption side. However, as you ante up the power – and the power ends at around 310 horsepower – the reliability decreases.
- 1.6 TDI of 90 and 105 horsepower – I personally can’t stand this engine because it was so garbage that even dump truck doesn’t pick up because it was so bad on the Golf VI, but on Golf VII and Seat Leon 5F it should be decent. However, it must be remembered that this engine can handle city driving as much as Claudine Gay handles the truth, so keep it away from the city otherwise you’ll end up with the particulate filtre, the EGR, the injectors, and the bank account wrecked if you have money and your buttocks wrecked if you don’t money.
- 2.0 TDI of 150 and 184 horsepower – Yea, sure, a flywheel fail here, a DPF clog there, but there’s not much you can complain about with the 2.0 TDI – the most important engine for the VW group. The problem on the other hand with the Seat Leon 5F is that the 2.0 TDI engine versions are so expensive to buy that you’d rather buy a Passat directly.
Seat Leon 5F Reliability Issues
- As with any modern VW, I have to write about the complementary issues with the DSG automatic gearbox and its computer, the famous Mechatronic. But if you’re a Seat owner, you probably don’t want to pay 3000 pounds more for the DSG anyway and you’ll go with the manual gearbox. Which should be reliable. It’s just that it’s not all the time because it has a habit of not going into reverse.
- Special mentions for the 1.2 TSI and 1.5 TSI engines that chug down on oil faster than we did on alcohol after the restrictions were lifted, when we drank the entire supply of beer in just 3 weeks.
- Because they are eco warriors who want to protect the environment and certainly don’t want to cut costs, they saved on glass and so the windshield is thinner than the clothes of the summer bands that liven up the beaches. So, stay away from cars or anything really, because the first leaf that touches the windshield risks cracking it.
- Condensation gathers at the headlights and taillights, but what to do, you have nothing to do with them. But at least the Seat Leon 5F came with LED headlights and taillights, a first for it’s class.
- It’s a modern VW, full of technology and so full of more or less serious electronic problems. From a mundane phone charger that is not to the car’s liking, to a radio that loses signal, that would be a less serious example. Or you can have an obscure sensor that fails and prevents the engine from starting because of it. That would be worse.
Seat Leon 5F Verdict
Sadly the Seat Leon 5F is part of the VAG generation with big reliability concerns and cars that you can’t generally rely on for a longer trip, even when they’re just out of the factory gates. But the advantage is that the Seat Leon 5F is still in the lower spectrum of the group and the issues tend to multiply once you put more and more technologies on the car. But a basic Seat Leon 5F can be quite reliable, even if it is more expensive than the competition. Worth it though? It no longer has the charm of Seat, but at least it remains a slightly cheaper Golf.
Which engines do I recommend? For petrol power the 150 horsepower 1.4 TSI and for diesel the 150 horsepower 2.0 TDI, although you will probably go for a 1.6 TDI. Probably.