Head-to-head – Seat Leon 1.4 TSI 150 v Vauxhall Astra 1.4 150

Head-to-head – Seat Leon 1.4 TSI 150 v Vauxhall Astra 1.4 150
Head-to-head – Seat Leon 1.4 TSI 150 v Vauxhall Astra 1.4 150

Turbo petrol version of new Astra seeks to out-style the Leon. Does it succeed?

Vauxhall’s all-new Astra has already impressed in diesel form, seeing off the Skoda Octavia and Ford Focus in recent tests. Now we try out the petrol-powered 1.4 Turbo – against another tough rival, in the form of Seat’s desirable 1.4 Leon FR. Which takes the win?

It’s certainly a big ask to expect Vauxhall’s latest family hatchback to brazen it out against the stylish, well equipped, comfortable and fine-performing Spaniard. Yet the Astra SRi Nav version we try here will be a popular buy among private buyers, thanks to its potent performance and impressive standard-kit list, not to mention competitive finance deals.

Vauxhall Astra 1.4 Turbo 150 SRi Nav

Vauxhall Astra

★★★★
Engine size 1.4-litre turbo petrol
List price £20,215
Target Price £18,321
Power 148bhp @ 5000-5600rpm
Torque 180lb ft
0-60mph 8.1sec
Top speed 134mph
Gov’t fuel economy 51.4mpg
True MPG 38.4mpg
CO2 emissions 128g/km

From a performance point of view, on paper the cars appear to run neck and neck. Both produce 148bhp, virtually identical torque figures, comparable 0-60mph sprint times and a 134mph top speed. In reality the Astra feels very slightly faster under hard acceleration, although the Leon’s linear delivery is as appealing as it ever was.

Handling and ride are also Vauxhall strong points, but none of the steering settings is particularly confidence inspiring. Neither are the clutch, braking and gearchange controls, which is a shame. Meanwhile, the Seat’s dynamics are as crisp and well judged as ever, thanks to minimal body roll and more steering feedback, which encourage you to push the front end harder. That gives the Leon the edge through a series of fast corners, and drivers can enjoy the better ride here as well.

Seat Leon 1.4 EcoTSI 150 FR

Seat Leon

★★★★
Engine size 1.4-litre turbo petrol
List price £20,525
Target Price £18,025
Power 148bhp @ 5000-6000rpm
Torque 184lb ft @ 1500-3500rpm
0-60mph 8.2sec
Top speed 134mph
Gov’t fuel economy 60.1mpg
True MPG 43.1mpg
CO2 emissions 110g/km

As you’d expect, both cars are quieter and smoother than their diesel counterparts, which also means their cabins have superior refinement. Somewhat surprisingly, the Vauxhall’s interior is classier than the Seat’s, and its touchscreen is larger and better too. Both cars have generous boot areas, but rear passengers fare better for space in the Astra.

Air-con, cruise control, sat-nav and Bluetooth are among the standard-fit kit in both rivals, while the Astra’s Apple CarPlay is countered by the Leon’s LED lights, front and rear sensors, and climate control.

Verdict

Private finance or business buyer, you’ll find little to differentiate between the two rivals’ running costs. And that marginal theme runs throughout this test, meaning there is no outright winner. If pushed, we’d choose the Leon, favouring its good looks, driving enjoyment and slightly better fuel economy. The Astra is snapping at its heels, though. Vauxhall’s done good.

Seat Leon

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