New Seat Leon ST (2014-) – Latest first drives – Choosing a car – Which? Car

13 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on New Seat Leon ST (2014-) – Latest first drives – Choosing a car – Which? Car

Latest first drives New Seat Leon ST (2014-)

Arriving less than a year after the Leon hatchback, the Leon Sport Tourer (ST) estate aims to build on the success of this attractive and practical medium car.

Members can read our full first drive review of the Seat Leon ST . If you’re not a member, sign up for £1 for access to hundreds of Which? Car reviews with lab test data for fuel economy, performance and more. 

New Seat Leon ST: what’s new?

The Sport Tourer (ST) is the third variant of the Leon (it’s already offered as a five-door hatchback and three-door coupe) and the first ever estate version. It has an £825 price premium over the Seat Leon hatchback .

What’s under its skin is not new – the Leon ST sits on the same VW Group ‘MQB’ platform as the Mk7 Golf, Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia. That’s a good thing because it means the Leon rides and handles pretty well.

Although it’s only 26cm longer than the hatchback, the Leon ST boasts 200 litres of extra boot capacity – about the same as you’d get from a city car and a medium hatchback combined.

However, this 587-litre trunk isn’t quite as humungous as the 605 litres offered by the Golf Estate or the 610 litres of a booted Skoda Octavia.

On all bar the most basic S trim, there are quick release levers in the boot to flatten the back seats and create a whopping 1,470 litres of space.

Passengers are just as well looked after as their luggage with plenty of space for four adults.

There are two new technical innovations on the Leon ST. The first is adaptive chassis control, which allows the driver to alter the suspension for a sportier or more comfortable ride. Second is the progressive steering, which alters the steering ratio in line with speed, so it’s more sensitive around town and less jittery on the motorway.

Engine choices comprise the same three petrols (1.2, 1.4 and 1.8) and four diesels (1.6 105bhp, 1.6 EcoMotive, 2.0 150bhp and 2.0 184bhp) as the Leon hatchback. The same three trim levels are available too: S, SE and FR.

New Seat Leon ST: what’s it up against?

The most obvious rivals are the Golf and Octavia. The ST counters these by positioning itself as a good looking, sporty alternative to the conservative Golf and practical Skoda.

If you don’t need as much space, Ford’s Focus Estate is probably the best to drive in this class. The Korean twins: Kia’s Cee’d Sportswagon and Hyundai’s i30 Tourer are also worth considering.

There’s also competition from medium-sized people carriers, many of which offer the added benefit of seven seats, as well as a horde of new crossover cars that combine a lofty driving position with a practical cabin.

Estate car reviews – read all about the Leon ST’s rivals

New Seat Leon ST: why buy one?

The most persuasive argument will be the price – model for model the Leon ST is around £1,000 cheaper than a Golf Estate. We also think it’s better looking than its very conservatively styled German sibling.

If you ignore the basic entry-level model, it’s also pretty well equipped as standard. SE and FR models come with a six-speed manual gearbox, cruise control, alloy wheels and quick release levers in the boot for the rear seats. Only the range topping FR comes with parking sensors as standard, though.

And there are lots of thoughtful design touches that make it easy to live with. The boot floor can be lowered to accommodate bulkier items, the rear parcel shelf can be stowed securely in the boot floor, there are reading lights for rear-seat passengers and no less than 13 storage cubbies around the cabin.

The new Seat Easy Connect touchscreen multimedia system is similar to a smartphone and was easy to use in our initial testing. It’s small but sited high up in the centre console, making it easy to view, and it’s complemented by steering wheel controls for lots of things like the adaptive suspension, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.

New Seat Leon ST: what’s its Achilles’ heel?

The Leon ST will be overlooked by those who want the prestige of a VW badge on their car bonnet. And anyone whose only priority is space may go for the bigger-booted Golf or larger-all-round Octavia instead.

While the Leon ST drives in a confident, grown-up way, it’s not as involving as Ford’s Focus; that car remains the keen driver’s choice in this sector.

It’s also worth noting that the Leon ST doesn’t come with a spare wheel – a space-saver spare is a £95 option on all bar EcoMotive models, which only have a tyre repair kit.

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