July 30 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, March 27, 2014
SEAT’s five and three-door Leons have been joined by an estate but has anything lost in translation? Matt Joy, of the Press Association, finds out.
Price: SEAT Leon ST FR 2.0 TDI 184PS, £23,380 (from £16,675)
Engine: 2.0-litre, 184PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel producing and 280lb.ft of torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual driving the front wheels
Performance: 0-62mph 7.8 seconds; top speed 142mph
MPG: 65.7 combined
CO2 emissions: 112g/km
One truism of the car world is that if you have a successful model, try and spin as many other models off it as you possibly can. Nothing wrong with that of course, particularly when it comes to widening the potential audience.
SEAT has done well with this approach before and is doing the same with its excellent Leon. First we had the five door, more recently there was the sportier three-door SC and now there’s the eminently practical ST.
It shouldn’t be too hard to spot. You’ll recognise the handsome nose and sharp creases that have become a key part of the SEAT look, only at the rear it now flows into a neatly designed estate tailgate. Some might see the term ‘estate’ as a byword for unglamorous practicality but those days are long gone – the Leon ST is slick, sharp and thoroughly modern.
The other important bit is in place too, namely space. With a modest length increase of 27cm over the five-door hatchback, the Leon ST hasn’t be turned into a parallel-parking nightmare, but the boot space is usefully larger. With the seats up there is 587 litres on offer – almost 200 more than the hatch – and with the seats down there’s a huge 1,470 litres.
All versions, regardless of specification, also have a moveable boot floor, giving you a useful separated storage area beneath or the one giant area, plus a 12-volt power socket and a through hatch, useful for long loads. An option is a folding front passenger seat too for serious load-carriers. SE models and above get a handy release in the boot for dropping the rear seats, the kind of detail that makes it so easy to live with.
You might expect that the transformation into an estate means compromises in the way the Leon drives, but in reality it’s easy to forget you’re in the ST once behind the wheel. The same refreshingly simple and well-specified cabin greets you, and you and your fellow passengers enjoy as much room as in other Leon models. The layout is easy to get to grips with, while the finish and the standard of materials is significantly better than the previous model. The Leon is a quality item, regardless of the bodystyle.
The engine choice is usefully broad too. Petrol engines start with a surprisingly flexible 1.2-litre TSI turbo petrol unit, with a 1.4-litre TSI and powerful 1.8-litre version at the top. Diesel engines include the 1.6-litre TDI turbo diesel including in super-frugal Ecomotive guise – capable of 85.6mpg combined – rising to the 2.0-litre TDI.
It may be the most expensive choice but that top 184PS diesel engine also gives you the most impressive overall package. It’s as quick and responsive as the figures suggest, with more torque than you could possibly need yet the possibility of more than 65mpg. It’s smooth and powerful, making life very easy for the driver.
The Leon should be on your shopping list anyway, but if you don’t think the hatch is quite big enough then the ST solves all your problems. Don’t think about buying a compact estate without taking a close look.