Stylish and sporty
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