They say that the first impression informs the ultimate opinion about a person or thing but it is often the case that the first impression does not always reveal the hidden talents within. This was the case with my week with the Seat Leon ST (Sports Tourer) seen in my snaps.
When I first walked out to the car I didn’t expect that much, if I’m honest and I steeled myself for a week of anonymous driving. The Leon ST is not an immediately striking car but it is handsomely styled with the subtle crease lines carried over from the very popular hatchback version. The review car came in the new Xcellence trim level (one of several) which you can read all about HERE.
I like an estate car, preferring them as the sleeker choice over the ubiquitous chunky SUV, so it will be interesting to see what I think after I have driven the Seat Ateca in the near future. Although I wasn’t immediately impressed with the ST on first sight, over the following week and especially during a long ride around glorious Wiltshire it made a very positive impression on me.
Driving The Seat Leon ST
The first thing to mention is that, when it comes to engines and trim levels, buyers are spoiled for choice. Although the SEAT range isn’t huge, there are plenty of mix and match options available throughout each model to configure the car that suits. Engines abound, from entry-level 1.2L and 1.0L petrol engines for economy and value, all the way up through the diesel options to a mighty 296bhp 2.0-litre petrol that is available in the Cupra version of the ST and hatch.
The test car came with a 148bhp 2.0L diesel motor that was pleasingly subdued in use, only getting a bit growly under pressure. There’s a more powerful diesel option but this engine offered a good compromise between performance and economy. There’s tons of torque and low-end grunt, sufficient to get to 62mph in a promising 8.3 seconds.
The company reckon that the Seat Leon ST will deliver 67mpg, but here in the real world we achieved an average of just over 50mpg, allowing for the fact that the car was put through its paces in mixed driving conditions, to be fair.
Driver aids include cruise control, electronically controlled dampers and variable-ratio steering options, blind-spot alert, drowsiness monitoring, intelligent braking and all the usual safety features we have come to expect.
On the road the Seat Leon ST handles very well through corners, minimising body roll and delivering a comfortable, if slightly firm ride which we liked. The car is engaging to drive through the six-speed manual gearbox (DSG available) and acquits itself well over our rotten roads. No, it’s not exciting but it is efficient and does the job very well. If you want this level of practicality and still scorch the road, well, SEAT have that covered with the red-hot Cupra variant.
Riding In The Seat Leon ST
You can tell from the interior that this car comes from the VW stable. There’s a familiarity about the fixtures and fittings.The cabin is stylish if a little austere. This car costs around £22k, depending, and you can see in certain recessed areas where economies have been made. Never mind; it’s smart, clean and contains all the technology we have come to expect, including improved connectivity, all readily to hand on the neat dash and steering wheel.
A 4/5 seat family car, the leg and head room is good for this class. the boot holds a capacious 587L in a convenient oblong shape, with useful side pockets. The rear seats fold as ever when large things need shifting.
Would I Buy The Seat Leon ST?
Yes, if I needed a compact, practical, family station wagon, the Seat Leon ST would be high on the list. For me, my preference for this car would be in the more rugged X-Perience version that I drove (pre-2016 facelift) at launch HERE. The addition of all-wheel drive seemed to me to make this Sports Tourer that much more purposeful. But either way, the ST should appeal to the ‘lifestyle’ aspiration we hear so much about and for this reason makes for a great alternative to the crossover culture. Geoff Maxted