Leon ST SE 1.6 TDI Ecomotive 110 PS 6-speed manual.
With a family trip to Madrid on the horizon, it was good to welcome a Seat to Company Cars offices, in the form of the Leon ST, Seats latest estate model. Since the Volkswagen-Audi Group bought into the Spanish manufacturer, the brand has gone from strength to strength, with it’s latest Leon hatchback being a really good choice in it’s sector for company car drivers. The larger Leon ST has been launched to target those who require a bit more space than one gets in a five door family hatchback. However, some estates seem to lose the good looks of their saloon or hatch brethren, but fear not because in the Leons case, the ST is a really attractive looking car, which if you look at quickly, looks an awful lot like an Audi A4 from just a few years ago. It’s certainly more of a looker than the Golf estate & Octavia version as well.
The ST may look a lot bigger than the Leon hatch, but in fact it’s just 272 mm longer than the Leon hatch & has the same wheelbase as the hatch, at 2,636mm. Roof rails, silver on SE models up & larger rear windows give the Leons exterior some classic lines & the boot & rear light clusters show the back of the car in a good light.
Inside, the cabin is clearly a Volkswagen Group product, with several controls looking the same as those found in the Octavia. There’s a few ‘Spanish’ touches though, including a slightly funky take on the fuel gauge. The quality is generally good & is very functional. The rotary climate controls look great, but are a pain to adjust as you need to twist them about 100 times to increase the temperature. This though, was the only negative with the ST’s instrumentation, in what really is a well put together car. Most of the other other functions are controlled through a touchscreen with simple, well-ordered menus. The screen is easy to use & to view being located high on the dash, even though it has a smallish 5” screen
Getting comfortable in the ST is simple as well. It’s easy to find a driving position that you’re happy with, thanks to an excellent range of adjustment for both the steering wheel & drivers seat. Furthermore, the seats are supportive too & are much more forgiving than the concrete seats fitted by Audi in their A3.
The Leon has the same underpinnings as the Audi A3 & VW Golf & unsurprisingly, it handles just as well as these models, whilst offering up a more comfortable ride than either. The suspension is especially good, making the ST handle really well on B roads & in town. On the motorway with cruise control it’s also a joy to be in with a quiet cabin adding to it’s charm. Talking of equipment, the Leon ST is extremely well equipped. Standard equipment includes, body coloured door mirrors, electrically adjustable heated mirrors,LED headlights with integrated LED indicators, tinted windows, double boot floor & tonneau cover, air conditioning, twin halogen headlamps with electrical range adjustment, a coming home headlight function, height/reach-adjustable steering wheel, 5″ colour touchscreen MP3-compatible CD player FM/AM radio with USB port, Bluetooth audio streaming Bluetooth hands-free telephone system & 6 speakers. There’s plenty of safety as standard, with front side airbags, curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag, active front head restraints, ABS& traction control ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) Automatic Post-collision braking system
My SE trimmed model adds chrome roof rails, seat back release handles in boot, height-adjustable front passenger seat, leather handbrake, steering wheel & gear knob, front fog lights with cornering function, cruise control, electric rear windows, 16 “ design’ alloy wheels & hill-hold control.
Seat have managed to squeeze an awful lot of boot space into the ST. The boot offers a capacity of 587 litres, an increase of 207 litres over the regular car & this can be increased to 1470 litres if you fold the seats forward – an easy task thanks to the simple handles in the boot. All models offer a double boot floor, meaning there’s a configuration with a flat load or a deeper configuration when you need the volume. There’s also a storage slot for the removable tonneau cover. Well done Seat !
What did my family think ? It’s easier to tell you what they didn’t like about the ST & that was precisely nothing. I have always hankered after owning an estate, because I like to know that I have a practical car if ever the needs arrive. What Seat has cleverly done with the ST, is to offer all of the good things that one gets with a Leon hatch- good value, fun to drive, well made, practical, good-looking- without compromising any of this in the ST version, which cannot be said of other brands attempts in this sector.
From a company car drivers perspective, the ST is well priced & well equipped. Not a single model is above VED band E. My 1.6 diesel only had a CO2 figure of 87g/km, but will still go from 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds. Seat claim an average fuel economy of 85.6 mpg. My real world test of a week & 300 miles of mixed motoring in the ST, left me with an average figure of 54.5 mpg, hugely impressive for me & more than I have ever achieved in a Golf Bluemotion.
After my time spent with the Leon, I was left to ruminate on why Seat is still not as popular here in the UK as the other VAG brands. It’s a sexie than Skoda, offers far better vale for money than Audi & is near as damn it a Volkswagen in disguise & everybody loves the Golf. Indeed Seat have reported a record year of results for 2014, so perhaps it is to become a Spanish success story after all. This would be thoroughly deserved because the Seat Leon ST is a very good car indeed.
An Atletico 3.5/5.
SEAT Leon ST 1.6 TDI Ecomotive 110 PS £20,920