For: Volkswagen quality, fit and finish.
Against: Weak brand.
Like the British economy, all the news coming from Volkswagen subsidiary SEAT at the moment is good. It looks like the Spanish brand, which has struggled in recent years, will break into profit this year.
It is the Leon, along with the little Mii, that has been responsible for SEAT’s recent success and SEAT is now adding a Leon estate car or ST to the 5-door Hatch and 3-door SC.
This is the first Leon estate car.
While the ST is the last of the trio to be launched, the range was developed together so the ST isn’t just a hatch with a bit stuck on. This shows in the ingenuity and practicality of the load area where there is provision to store the load cover under the floor, when not in use. There are quick release levers to drop the rear seats when standing at the tail gate and a deep compartment beneath the floor to hide briefcases and laptops, as well as a 12v socket. When the seats are lowered there is a long flat loading area. To achieve this extra space over the hatch, the rear overhang is increased by 272mm, which if anything gives the ST a sleeker appearance than the Hatch and SC
Wide range of engines
Like its siblings, the ST is available with a wide range of engines including 1.2-litre 105PS, 1.4-litre 140PS and 1.8-litre 180PS petrol engines and 1.6-litre 105PS, 2.0-litre 150PS and 2.0-litre 184PS diesels. There is also an Ecomotive 1.6TDI 110PS economy special with an impressive claimed combined mpg of 85.6.
It is interesting to compare the ST with the recently launched VW Golf Estate, which has a more limited engine choice with no 1.8-litre 180 PS petrol and no 2.0-litre 184PS diese. This suggests VW is leaving the sporty estates to SEAT. Also the Golf’s 105 PS petrol is 1.4-litre and the SEAT’s 1.2-litre. SEAT is soon to launch Cupra 265 and 280PS versions of the three and five-door hatches, seriously outpacing the Golf GTI and it is rumoured a Cupra R will follow with the same 300PS of the Golf R. Hopefully these engines will be available in the ST. SEAT has also just announced a four-wheel drive version of the ST, but unfortunately this will only be available with 1.6-litre 105 PS and 2-litre 150PS diesels. It is also rumoured SEAT will eventually launch an ST Cupra R with 300PS and all-wheel drive. What a car that will be.
The ST, as the rest of the range, is currently available in three levels of trim; the S which starts at £16,675, the SE from £17,795 and the FR from £20,390. At the moment the most expensive ST is the 2.0 TDI 184PS automatic at £24,630.
Stuffed with technology
Despite being one of Volkswagen’s value brands the Leon ST is stuffed with technology and equipment either standard or optional. The S comes with black roof rails, rear armrest, height adjustable driver’s seat, split-folding rear seats, air conditioning, electrically adjustable headlights, daytime running lights, coming home headlights, fully adjustable steering wheel with audio and telephone controls, electric front windows, radio/CD/USB/SD/AUX-in with 6-speakers, Bluetooth hands-free telephone connection, seven airbags, and electronic stability control.
The SE adds chrome roof rails, rear reading lights, front arm rest, cargo net in boot, driver’s seat lumbar adjustment, leather-trimmed steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake lever, cruise control, electric rear windows, front fog lights with cornering function, eight speakers, 16” alloy wheels, hill hold control and electronic limited-slip differential
The FR also offers 17” alloy wheels, sports suspension, electrically folding door mirrors, passenger door mirror with reversing kerb function, eight-speakers, dark tinted rear side windows, front sports seats, SEAT Drive Profile and dual-zone climate control.
Despite the extra length and weight at the rear the Leon ST drives just as well as the three and five door hatches, which is very well indeed. SEAT fits any of its cars of 150PS plus with independent rear suspension as opposed to a torsion beam axle for the lower powered cars. Only enthusiastic owners driving on the limit will actually notice the difference such is the effectiveness of the standard set-up.
The Leon ST is extremely comfortable and its controls are perfectly placed, particularly the satellite navigation screen when fitted, which is in direct line of vision. The car has ample room for four large adults or two adults and three children with plenty of room for luggage.
|SEAT Leon ST 1.2 TSI 105 S|
|Engine:||1.2 litre, 4-cylinder diesel|
|Power:||105 hp @ 4,500-5,500|
|Torque:||175 Nm @ 1,400-4,000|
|Gearbox:||Six-speed manual or optional seven-speed automatic|
|Acceleration:||0-100 km/h-62 mph – 10 seconds|
|Top Speed:||190 km/h-119 mph|
|Fuel Consumption:||claimed combined – 4.9 l/km-57.6 mpg|
|Emissions class:||Euro V|
|Width:||1,816 without mirrors|
|Boot capacity:||587 litres/1.470|
|Competition:||Focus Estate, Astra Estate, Octavia Estate, Golf Estate, Cee’d Sportwagon|
|For:||Stylish, practical estate with low running costs|
|Against:||For some, the badge|
© Robert Couldwell January 2014
For publication on WintonsWorld