Published: 18 Aug 2013
When it comes to producing stylish, reliable, and affordable cars, SEAT is at the very top of the class. Owned by the Volkswagen Group, the Spanish manufacturer has been able to use the reputation of its parent company to amass a portfolio of vehicles that are popular with drivers young and old. While SEAT has seen successful with its Toledo and Altea models, the two vehicles that the company is best known for are the Leon and the Ibiza. These two cars share a lot in common and both are worthy motors for any hatchback buyer, but which is the better model?
Having first rolled of the production line back in 1998, the SEAT Leon is 14 years the Ibiza’s junior. However, it didn’t take long for this sporty hatchback to join its older sibling at the top of the SEAT hierarchy.
The Leon is based on the ever-popular VW Golf and although it cannot claim to match its rival hatchback in terms of quality, prestige, or awards, it is almost as fun to drive and retails for a hell of a lot cheaper. Comfort is not an outstanding point across any of the SEAT range and the Leon instead relies on its excellent use of space, great fuel economy, and sharp styling to win over buyers.
There is a good choice of petrol and diesel engines (ranging from a 1.2-litre TSI to 1.8-litre TSI in petrol and from 1.6-litre TDI to 2.0-litre TDI in diesel), as well as SC hatchback and ST estate versions to provide an alternative to the traditional hatchback. If you are looking for a bit of excitement in your vehicle, SEAT offers FR and Cupra versions of the Leon – both of which offer a more exhilarating driving experience.
SEAT has always appealed greatly to young buyers down the years and the SEAT Ibiza is the biggest reason why. The Ibiza has always benefitted from sleek and sporty styling and comes in an array of colours aimed squarely at satisfying the youth.
The biggest difference between this car and the Leon is in size. The Ibiza is a small hatchback and the Leon is a medium hatchback, so in choosing which one to buy you do not have to consider much beyond the issue of space in making your decision.
The Ibiza, like the Leon, is very attractively priced, offering a comfortable and composed ride. Engine choices are also equally as appealing, across a range of Sport Coupe (SC), Sport Tourer (ST) estate and five-door hatchback versions.
In the style stakes, the Ibiza’s smaller chassis probably gives it the sexier look and it matches the Leon in terms of safety kit and specs.
Both cars offer twin front and side airbags and both have received the maximum five stars from NCAP for crash protection. You can also expect the standard range of VW in-cabin entertainment features in the Ibiza and the Leon, with air-con, MP3 capability, and Bluetooth as standard.
The Ibiza also offers the jump up to FR and Cupra models where you can enjoy bigger alloys, stiffer suspension, and bolstered seats.
It is hard to pick a winner between the SEAT Leon and Ibiza as both offer almost identical plus points. The two cars are separated only by size and, given that boot space is a factor for most buyers, it is the Leon that just comes out on top.
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