Stylish and sporty

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Keenan

N the Volk­swa­gen fam­ily SEAT has al­ways been the youth­ful, stylish, sporty one – and it brings this vigour to the Leon es­tate. Called the ST – sports tourer – it is closely re­lated to the hatch­back so the good looks are re­tained and it is al­most as good to drive.

Where it scores more points is in the load-lug­ging cat­e­gory. Yes, the boot is smaller than its rel­a­tives – the Skoda Oc­tavia and Volk­swa­gen Golf es­tates – but that it is the price you pay for style as the Leon is sleeker and bet­ter look­ing than those two.

And in fair­ness there is a move­able boot floor plus it’s a de­cent size and shape while the split/fold­ing rear seats add to the prac­ti­cal­ity. For the golfers among you there is no need to move any­thing as the boot eas­ily swal­lows a bag of clubs, trol­ley and other bits and bobs with ease.

Sit­ting in the back is no chore ei­ther as three adults can fit in com­fort­ably as there are gen­er­ous lev­els of leg and head room.

The ST of­fers a de­cent amount of kit and equip­ment on even the en­try-level model while the £24,435 FR ver­sion I drove is higher up the food chain so pro­vides dual zone air con­di­tion­ing, Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity and a 6.5-inch colour touch­screen with prox­im­ity sen­sor ac­cess­ing a de­cent eight-speaker au­dio sys­tem.

There are also LED tail lights as well as front and rear park­ing sen­sors while chrome roof rails and hill hold con­trol are also in­cluded.

The in­te­rior is smart and the soft-touch dash, smart sports seats and alu­minium front door sills em­bossed with the FR logo add to the qual­ity feel. There are plenty of cubby holes as well as am­ple bot­tle hold­ers.

Get be­hind the multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel and this Leon is a lot of fun to drive thanks to a sports sus­pen­sion al­lied to light and pre­cise steer­ing.

It is based on the same chas­sis as the Golf and the Audi A3 so the sharp han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics shouldn’t re­ally be a sur­prise – but on an es­tate they are.

It is easy to ma­noeu­vre around town or on coun­try lanes with a re­as­sur­ing amount of grip and a def­i­nite feel of be­ing planted to the road.

This is an es­tate car though, so there is ex­tra weight com­pared to the hatch­back which leads to a touch of roll in the cor­ners while the fuel con­sump­tion fig­ures suf­fer slightly.

How­ever, the 2.0-litre diesel un­der­neath the bon­net of the FR model I drove is still pretty good with a claimed av­er­age fig­ure in ex­cess of 60mpg and emis­sions of 112g/km. It is aided and abet­ted by a smooth six-speed trans­mis­sion that of­fers slick gear changes.

Econ­omy is com­bined with de­cent per­for­mance fig­ures as 62mph is reached from a stand­ing start in a shade un­der nine sec­onds on the way to a top speed of 134mph.

With its stylish looks and prac­ti­cal in­te­rior the SEAT Leon ST is a great com­pact es­tate car which caters for the needs of most fam­i­lies.

TEST DRIVE SEAT LEON ST

MODEL: SEAT Leon ST FR 2.0 TDI PRICE: £24,435 ME­CHAN­I­CAL: 148bhp, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel en­gine driv­ing front wheels via 6-speed man­ual gear­box MAX SPEED: 134mph 0-62MPH: 8.6 sec­onds COM­BINED MPG: 64.2 IN­SUR­ANCE GROUP: 20 CO2 EMIS­SIONS: 112g/km BIK RATING: 22% WAR­RANTY: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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