In the world of car ownership, it’s always been said that the more expensive the car is, the better it is, now I’ll admit I’ve always went by this too and have always vouched to parents or family members never to buy anything under £500 as it’ll more than likely be wrecked and need a ton of work to get it back on the road, however, it seems that I’ll more than likely have to eat humble pie for breakfast, lunch & dinner after my stepdad bought a Seat Leon MK1 for the measly sum of £300 back in May – that’s right, he bought a fully working, full service history, relatively clean, lowish mileage car for less than my Canon 1300D Camera.
So what exactly is the deal with this Seat and why do we own one?, well, with my mum away working in her new job as a Live In Carer and needing a car to get her down to wherever she needs to be and my own car being a rolling project, my stepdad needed a cheap set of wheels to just get him mobile, now of course, with such a limited budget it would be highly unlikely that’d he’d get something flashy or prestige for that amount of money, for this he needed something reliable, cheap to run, easy to fix if it ever needed work and of course an easy array of parts at a relative cost, this is where the search begins.
my stepdad got a message from a friend of his through his Facebook saying that she’d found a guy in Glasgow selling a MK1 Seat Leon 1.4 on the Facebook Marketplace, after the usual questioning you ask when buying a car & a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, we finally decided on a price – £300 for the car itself & £20 delivery from his address and that was it, we had bought ourselves a Seat Leon MK1 1.4.
Now, I’ll freely admit, I’ve never really got the Vdub scene and especially the VAG scene with cars, I’ve been in a few VW’s before and while not too bad, they’ve never been a car I’d ever consider owning and when you add in Dieselgate a few years back and countless horror stories of their cars having big issues it put me off them and Seat was no different, after hearing all that stuff I’d honestly thought that I’d not gel with this car whatsoever and would soon begin to find issues with it and would soon begin to eventually hate it as it’d live up to the reputation these cars have gained upon themselves, however, a few weeks into ownership and I was actually pleasantly surprised.
I’ll admit, when the car came along that evening, it wasn’t anything fancy and it certainly needed work doing to it to get it up to roadworthy condition, this was expected for two reasons, one, the guy we bought it from had already told us what was wrong with it and for two, it only cost £300, it was never going to be a good running car for that amount of coin, even I’d be pleasantly surprised if it was like that, especially in this day & age.
Things all started to change the first time I shunted it around to help jump start my C70, it blew me away with how easy it was to drive & how well screwed together it all was, especially for a everyday, cheap, easily accessible 5 door hatchback, the build quality surpasses anything similarly priced or even any fit’s rivals, even the MK4 Golf it shares a majority of parts with.
Ever since fixing it & getting it roadworthy, it’s been perfect to own and hasn’t given us hardly any issues, we bought it on 98k miles and since ownership we’ve put about 3k miles into it which I’ll admit isn’t much but in those times we’ve done biggish trips and also small trips and not a single issue has raised it’s ugly little head – a big feat for a VAG car over 15 years old.
Drivability wise, it actually drives really well & has overall brilliant driving manners, the steering is great, the brakes are surprisingly good but to be quite frank the car doesn’t weigh much so it doesn’t need huge brakes to stop it, the engine & gearbox is strong albeit out of puff at higher speeds but that’s expected with a 1.4.
The best bit about it however is it’s fuel economy. It only costs £60 to fill with current fuel prices and that can last for a good few weeks, on paper, the little 1.4 can do 42mpg combined and after living with it for well over 6 months I can really start to believe it.
I honestly don’t know if it does actually hit the 42mpg like the stats state but it certainly isn’t far off, this means that for us or even anybody either on a budget or looking for a daily it will save quite a bit of money over a small period of time which can be spent on other things like new car parts for example.
The only real issue as I mentioned above is really the lack of shove at higher speeds, this isn’t a car built for high speed motorway driving, if you want something which can cope a little better i’d suggest either the 1.8T 20V or the well loved 1.9 Diesel as these will be so much better suited to the car.
Interior wise it isn’t actually badly equipped, ours has the optional 6CD Changer fitted in the glovebox as well as A/C, electric windows, Alloy wheels amongst other things and everything works, the heater is fantastic as is the stereo system, inside it is pretty sparse with equipment I’ll admit as it is the base model with a few extras added in however there is two good reasons why we don’t mind this – first off, it’s less to go wrong and for two, it can easily be replaced with OEM parts from higher specced Leon’s if we so wish, for now however it’s doing it’s job so we’re not too fussed about changing it up just yet.
So, you maybe asking what are the plans for this car for the future? – well for now we’re going to keep it the way it currently is as it’s working perfectly fine, it could be due a Service sometime soon and there is talks of changing out the interior for a full leather set from a higher specced car, already it’s had Audi A3 5 spoke wheels fitted as the originals were resprayed black and were done so terribly, the Audi wheels actually suit the car well so they’ll be staying unless we can find others which suit even better.
We’ll hopefully be keeping this little beauty for a few months to come as it keeps up clocking up the care free miles day after day, keep an eye out for updates on it in the future months as it hopefully changes from a £300 run about to something actually relatively decent, it’ll never be a show car that’s for certain but it’ll be a car anyone will be happy to own.
Hope You Enjoy!
From Alex Jebson