11.6.2018Seat Leon ST 2.0 TDI review
Seat has built its reputation as being the sporty arm of the VW Group. It looks to offer the same core attributes of the likes of VW's Golf and Skoda's Octavia, but with a little more Latin style to proceedings. Available in a range of guises, here we test the Seat Leon ST estate.
Review by Chris Lilly
Fitted under the bonnet of the test car is Seat's widely used and flexible 2.0 litre TDI diesel, here roducing 150 hp and 340 Nm of torque. It's a good engine to have up front, as it balances fuel economy and performance in good measure. In this model, the engine is good for a 0-62 mph time of 8.6 seconds and a top speed of 134 mph. The Leon ST isn't particularly rapid then, but neither is it sluggish at all. To drive, you can ride the wave of low down torque for a relaxing experience, leaning on the engine's natural characteristics to pull ably at just about any speed. The six-speed manual fitted to the test car offers a precise and reasonably snappy change. The overall impression is that it matches the easy-to-drive nature of many of its VW Group stablemates with some of that Spanish flair. The Leon ST will happily be hustled along a twisty road when the mood takes, but equally it is comfortable dealing with th worst of the morning commute. Performance is plentiful for most needs, and only those wanting a performance car will require any more really.
Driving dynamics are one of the Seat Leon hatchback's strengths. It will put smiles on the faces of driver and occupants easily, coming close to matching the best in class, and appealing to buyers that like to drive. Equally, the Leon does the normal things well, with rough roads and motorway runs dealt with profesionally. It's a great all-rounder, and the ST is the hatchback's equal. In fact, on the motorway it is slightly better than the five-door hatch as the estate's extra length in the wheelbase makes for a slightly better ride. These things are tight, and no doubt the hatchback is a little more agile through the bends, but most will find the driving experience of the hatch and estate very similar - and that's no bad thing. The Leon ST is one of the most enjoyable compact estates on the market to drive, and will prove more than a match for the UK's pock-marked roads at the same time. If comfort is your priority, there are better cars on the market, but the Leon ST strikes a great balance between a practical ride and a sporty one.
Seat scores highly in this category too in my opinion, particularly in FR Technology trim tested and the car's deep blue paintwork. It's a really good car to look at, avoiding any lumpenness over the rear that some hatchback-turned-estate models get. The design is coherant, sharp, and stylish. It works practically too, even considering this is the estate we're looing at. Of course you would expect the ST to be more practical than the conventional hatch, but the Leon ST scores fairly well against its rivals too. There are models that offer greater outright load space, largely because of the Seat's sleek exterior styling. Few will have any complaints about the Leon ST's load space however, and it comfortably deals with a large amount of luggage of the general kit of a young family. I used it on an airport run for a long-weekend away for example and there were no issues with loading the amount of luggage a young family of four were taking. further forward, interior space for occupants is generous throughout.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Levels of quality, fit, and finish in th Leon ST's cabin are excellent, particularly when looking at the car's price. The Leon - like Skoda's Octavia - are often pitched as a 'budget' Golf, with no offence intended. The budget refers to the price, not how much has been spent on kitting out the interior for example. The cabin isn't the most exciting or innovative around, but it's sensibly laid out and boasts good levels of equipment. The styling isn't a match for the exterior's then, though this is made up for in the feeling of materials used. The Leon ST's instruments aren't the swished around, with a set of two analogue dials flanking a small digital screen. Likewise the controls see heating and air conditining functions in one panel, with most other functions fitted in the large touchscreen. Controls are easy to use on the whole, and buttons fal easily to hand. The FR Technology model tested added some red stitching about the place for an added air of sportiness.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Although the Leon ST looks pretty sporty, as mentioned earlier, the engine tested does a good job of keeping fuel costs low. Official figures come in at 67.3 MPG and 112 g/km CO2. It's not going to cost the earth to run then, showcasing the benefit of sporty styling without a sporty engine. Real world performance is a little disapointing with an average of 56.3 MPG showing on the trip computer after more than 400 miles in my care. It's certainly not a bad figure, and I mixed up the driving styles and locations during that time, but I'd have been hoping for a reading in the very high-50s or low-60's ideally.
The diesel engine fitted to the Leon ST is one of the VW Group's latest generation units. Seat has also fitted this model with the Seat Drive Profile selector, which allows the driver to switch between settings including Eco, Normal, and Sport. When in Eco this lessens throttle response to help get those extra miles per gallon, and it alters the settings in the DSG transmission when fitted to improve efficiency. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 38.
Equipment levels are very good on the Leon ST, with buyers getting plenty of kit for their money. Fitted as standard to all models, starting at SE Technology with the estate version - are 16-inch alloys, 8-inch touchscreen navigation system with DAB and USB, leather steering wheel and gear knob, cruise control, and electric parking brake. Move up the trim levels to FR technology tested and added are 17-inch alloys, LED headlights - front, rear, and fogs - twin exhausts, FR styling kit, rear privacy glass, front sports seats, sports steering wheel, sports suspension, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, and the Seat Drive Profile system.
Seat's Leon ST is an often overlooked model for those wanting a practical family car - but it really shouldn't be. It's one of the best all-rounders around, and provides owners with good levels of performance, comfort, practicality, and economy, all in a stylish package.
Model tested: Seat Leon ST FR Technology 2.0 TDI 150 PS manual
Body-style: Compact estate
Engine / CO2: 2.0 litre diesel / 112 g/km
On-road price: Price as tested £25,945
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars