In the market for a small luxury car? There's no doubt the Audi A3 fits this bill! German engineering at its finest and a smart interior is what you should expect from this premium family Sportback.
But what about the A3s Spanish cousin - the Seat Leon? The two cars have an unmistakably similar body style and share a fair few body parts too. But can the slightly cheaper, sporty 2020 Seat Leon give the A3 a run for its money? Let's find out!
Seat Leon vs Audi A3
So, how do you choose between the contemporary Seat Leon and the premium-badged Audi A3? Let's review the differences!
- Doors: 5
- Engine: 2.0
- Fuel: P, D, H
- Body: Hatchback
- Drive: M, A
- CO2: 214g/km
- Doors: 5
- Engine: 3.2
- Fuel: P, D, H
- Body: Hatchback
- Drive: M, A
- CO2: 250g/km
Good value for money
Finally the interior upgrade we've all been waiting for!
Poor rear visibility
Where comfort and sharp handling meet
Rear and boot space lacking
The body of the Audi A3 Sportback is sophisticated and sleek. In true Audi fashion, it has the signature Audi grille with the iconic four rings. This is a smaller car done very very well. Pick a model with roof rails and it could easily be mistaken for a top of the range estate car from a distance. This is truly a small car that means business!
The Seat Leon was introduced post-merger with VW Group and its essentially a sportier, sexier, Spanish VW Golf. Seat are known for their sporty finishes and both Ibiza and the Leon are strong examples why. With sharp edges along with the bonnet, a newly updated front grille and fake twin exhausts, the 4th Generation Seat Leon is a pretty damn attractive car. At Seat, they've also updated the tail light and added animations for when the car is locked and unlocked as well as a handwritten Leon badge.
The A3 is truly the happy marriage of great driving and comfort. The car is nimble and quiet to drive and, despite its smaller size, has a luxurious feel to it. Being in the same class as the Mercedes A-Class and the BMW 1 Series, the A3 is up against fierce competition, but it's a winning formula and drives remarkably well! While it doesn't have quite the kick to it of the BMW 1 Series, it handles well and is a great all-rounder, plus all trims come with rear suspension included.
If you're looking for fun, take the Seat Leon for a drive. Although the drive isn't the quietest, the range of engines ticks all the right boxes and the firm ride lets you throw it around sharp corners with great grip! The steering is smooth, the clutch is light and the manual gearbox is reasonable. One small downside is the visibility out the rear end. Because the seats are relatively low and the back window on the smaller side, your visibility isn't great! With the 4th generation Seat Leon, there have been a good few minor improvements to the body and the new model is a whopping 8% more aerodynamic than its predecessor. Way to go Seat - now when should we expect a Leon electric?
With the A3, you’ve got a high level of personalisation and interior upgrades to choose from, but keep an eye on the price tag. A bunch of seemingly small additions will quickly add up! The dashboard in the A3 is simple and matte, meaning you won't have to wipe and polish every other day. Unfortunately, the infotainment system isn't touchscreen but fortunately, the rotary wheel is really precise and easy to use. The centre console is simple but beautifully designed in a true Audi fashion. The Audi A3 is a small luxury car, no doubt about it!
The Seat Leon interiors have FINALLY been given the upgrade they longingly deserved! The 4th generation Leon boasts a few pretty cool features such as a Beats Audio sound system, 10-inch fully-customisable instrument cluster on all but the entry-level model, wrap-around ambient light and touch-activated cabin lights. The dashboard, centre console and steering wheel have all received a massive overhaul and they are now well worthy of comparison to the more upmarket rides. The updated styling is a welcome change to the popular Seat and it will undoubtedly do very well when it enters the market in Spring 2020.
The A3 isn't too generous when it comes to space. The headspace in the front is a bit limited and the rear seats are not exactly roomy. If you're taxi-ing tall teenagers around, it may not be the comfiest of rides for those in the back. If, however, you're a young family, this is a surprisingly strong contestant in the family car market! With the five-door Sportback, it's pretty easy to get in and out and the boot is a reasonable size. That said, it’s nowhere near as spacious as the somewhat similar Skoda Octavia. It goes without saying, if you're looking for a family car, steer clear of the three-door.
For a sporty car, the Leon is one very practical contestant to the family hatchback market! Despite its slim sporty body, there's a surprising amount of space for rear passengers with a fairly comfortable amount of room for three adults. This is pretty rare for this type of car. The boot in the Leon is also very generous and well planned out, offering up 380 litres of room.
Compared to its German rivals, the lower trims of the Audi A3 are pretty reasonably priced. But make no mistake - you are paying a premium for those four hoops on the front grille.
If you were to buy the cars outright you'd be paying just short of £23k for the A3 (SE Technik 5dr). The Seat Leon (SE Dynamic 5dr, 3rd Gen.) would set you back £3k less. We expect the 4th generation Seat Leon to be in a similar price range.
Seat and Audi warranty both cover you for 3 years, so if you're leasing you shouldn't have to worry much about maintenance and repairs. That said, with luxury cars come the more expensive repairs so if you are unlucky, the Audi will be more expensive to repair than the Seat. Surprise, surprise. And Audi reliability isn't top of the league, so you might have to cough up after the warranty ends - which is why Audi Extended Warranty is good option.
Another cost factor to consider is the fuel economy of the car. Here, the Seat Leon takes the lead with a claimed 58.9 MPG, shortly followed by the A3 Saloon mpg of 57, A3 Sportback mpg of 55.4 and A3 Cabriolet mpg of 50.4. The fuel consumption is not bad at all!
Depreciation for a Seat is a bit of a kick to the teeth but again, if you're leasing, it doesn't matter!
Still not sure about which new car you want in your garage? Here's the verdict:
The A3 is snazzy but not too snazzy. It's a premium car so it's a bit on the expensive side compared to the Seat Leon, but not compared to its main rivals and the rest of the Audi range. It's an all-rounder, an old classic but with a very up to date set of tech specs and features!
Had it not been for the recent 4th Generation Seat Leon, the Audi A3 would've grabbed the winning trophy easily!
But the new Seat Leon is a stunner! It's sporty, the interiors have finally been upgraded and the price tag is very tempting!
The two rides are similar, if you're doing long journeys and a lot of motorway driving then the Audi might be a good choice as it is the King of Comfort here and simply has less cabin noise.
If you do a lot of driving on smaller roads and perhaps deep down you're a bit of a motoring enthusiast, then the new Seat Leon will be plenty of fun. Seat Leon is the best of both worlds. It's a sensible adult family car, but bump the child seat, turn up the base and flick the ambient light on and you're ready to go anywhere!
If you're a sucker for a good premium logo and like keeping up with the Joneses, the Audi does the trick very well!
If you're looking for a fun but also family-friendly affordable car - take a chance.
If you ask me... Vamos à la playa!