If a motor gets a Car of the Year award then it is certainly worth a look. And if it’s the WhatCar? organisation which is making it their car the year, you know it’s certain to be a winner.

And there I was behind the wheel of the SEAT Leon, probably one of the best cars I had driven in the last year. So WhatCar? certainly got it right.

Leon is named after the city of the city name which is named Lion in Spanish and has been around since 1998. It was given the name as a Volkswagen Golf in matador fancy dress. Otherwise it is the new, fourth-generation SEAT Leon. And, unsurprisingly, Spain’s family hatch is closer than it is have ever been to a Golf thanks to shared engines, interiors and tech. It is just for less money and with considerable more style.

SEAT used to be owned by the Spanish state when it was formed 70 years ago but is now part of the massive VW conglomerate but under its own name sold more than 400,000 cars last year.

My model was the 1.0 eTSI SE five door DSG version and there are quite number of Leons with six trims, six engines – petrol, diesel or hybrid – and prices which range from £20,500 to £36,000, so there’s plenty to choose from.

Even the entry level has got bags of kit including air con, keyless start and cruise control. This is the 1.0-litre petrol TSI 110 and shouldn’t be ruled out because it pulls extremely well and is quite a bargain at just over £20,000.

All versions of the Seat Leon come with five doors as standard and the mpg varies between 200 mpg and 60mpg depending on your engine.  The eco-friendly plug-in hybrid uses a 1.4-litre petrol engine with an electric motor that bumps up the power to an impressive 201bhp and the rather good miles per gallon! The electric-only range is around 40 miles.

The Leon is priced under the VW Golf and the Ford Focus and all versions of the Leon come with a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty and a third year of cover as long as your total mileage doesn’t exceed 60,000 miles. 

SEAT have certainly got their act together these days and it is a pleasure to drive any one of their fleet.

The Leon is comfortable making it a pleasure to be on the roads for a long journey and all trims come with adjustable lumbar support.

Likewise on all trims there are powerful LED headlights come as standard and there is automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assistance (which many people will turn off immediately) and a driver fatigue monitor.

The Leon’s rear seats are likewise comfortable and they fold in a 60/40 split for extra luggage and there is a ski hatch, allowing two rear passengers to be carried in comfort while a long, narrow load is slid through next to them.

Rear space is pretty good and the car is more comfortable for a middle passenger because he or she doesn’t have to get across such a big lump in the middle. 

There is plenty of head room in the front and the seats slide back a long way. Storage items are aplenty. These include a decent-sized glove box and broad door bins, a tray for a mobile phone in front of the gear lever, two cupholders and a cubby under the front armrest.