It’s sleek and slick

Seat has in­tro­duced a Leon es­tate. Does it match its smaller ver­sions? asks Matt Joy

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kentmotors -

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 au­di­ence.

Seat has done well with this ap­proach be­fore and is do­ing the same with its ex­cel­lent Leon. First we had the five­door, more re­cently 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 the Leon ST hasn’t been turned into a par­al­lel park­ing night­mare, but the boot space is use­fully larger. With the seats up there’s 587 litres on of­fer (al­most 200 more than the hatch) and with them down there’s a mas­sive 1,470 litres.

All ver­sions re­gard­less of spec also have a move­able boot floor, giv­ing you a use­ful sep­a­rated stor­age area be­neath or the one gi­ant area, plus a 12v power socket and a through hatch, use­ful for long loads.

You might ex­pect 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 as you climb in, and you and your pas­sen­gers en­joy as much room as in other Leon mod­els.

The en­gine choice is broad too. Petrol en­gines start with a sur­pris­ingly flex­i­ble 1.2-litre TSI unit, with a 1.4-litre TSI and pow­er­ful 1.8-litre ver­sion at the top. Diesel en­gines in­clude the 1.6-litre TDI in­clud­ing in su­per-fru­gal Eco­mo­tive guise (ca­pa­ble of 85.6mpg com­bined) ris­ing to the 184PS 2.0-litre TDI.

It may be the most ex­pen­sive choice but that top diesel en­gine gives you the most im­pres­sive over­all pack­age. It has more torque than you could pos­si­bly need yet the pos­si­bil­ity of over 65 miles per gal­lon.

The Leon ought to be on your shop­ping list any­way, but if you’re not sure that the hatch is quite big enough take a good look for your­self. You’ll find the ST solves all your prob­lems. Don’t think about buy­ing a com­pact es­tate with­out tak­ing that close look. You won’t re­gret it.

IN A NUT­SHELL

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