SEAT Leon ST (2013-2020) Review
The SEAT Leon ST is the estate version of the Leon hatch. Its biggest competition comes from other Volkswagen Group car such as the Golf estate and Skoda Octavia estate.
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What's not so good
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This is the first time there’s been a SEAT Leon estate, lending an air of additional practicality to SEAT’s family-car offering but without too much of a weight penalty. In essence it’s a cheaper, better-looking Golf estate.
The SEAT Leon ST interior borrows much from its VW and Skoda sister cars, but adds that bit of Spanish flare that livens up the otherwise dark and gloomy cockpit. The aluminium inserts and Alfa-Romeo style dials lift the cabin. A drawback of the low-slung roofline is a boot that is a bit smaller than the ones in the Golf estate and Skoda Octavia, but passenger space is unchanged and therefore plenty.
While it can’t match the Ford Focus Estate for outright agility, the SEAT Leon ST has a clever front differential and plenty of optional extras like adaptive dampers and steering to make it very competent and confidence inspiring on the road. It’s also helped by the fact it’s the lightest estate car in class.
Engine choice, similarly to VW and Skoda, is broad and covers just about any customer need – the 1.6-litre diesel is one of the cleanest on sale and the 185hp 2.0-litre diesel has all the performance you’re likely to want and is cheap to run, too. If you don’t plan on driving the Leon ST at fully loaded, then the 1.2-litre petrol is the recommended choice.
All SEAT Leon ST cars come with sat-nav, air-con, Bluetooth phone connection, a double boot floor and t roof rails.
The Leon ST is a great alternative to a Golf Estate
The SEAT Leon ST is a mystery. It’s as good as a Golf, but better to drive, better looking, more characterful and much, much cheaper – the mystery is how the Volkswagen Group allows it.
It’s not the last word in load luggers but for general estate-car duties – family, dogs and luggage – it knocks spots off the more prestige in-house rivals. If you’re looking for a Golf estate then, unless you need every last litre of seats-down load space, test drive the SEAT Leon ST first. Your wallet will thank you. If you want even more space without paying a premium, then there’s always the Skoda Octavia Estate.
Like every other Leon the SEAT Leon ST drives well. It may be notably longer than the hatchback, but it’s only 45kg heavier.
The 1.4-litre petrol is quiet and smooth - it gets my pick
Your diesel options are a 1.6-litre unit in either 105hp or “Ecomotive” 115hp flavours, with a punchy 2.0-litre offering 150hp or 185hp. The two 1.6-litre engines both emit less than 100g/km CO2. The Ecomotive version dips well under and can achieve a fuel economy of 85.6mpg. The 2.0-litre diesel offers better performance with both engines getting you to 60mph in 8.5s or less.
The petrols are not quite so parsimonious, but still sit in VED bands C-E. There’s a 110hp 1.2-litre, a 1.4-litre in 125hp and 150hp versions, a 180hp 1.8-litre and a 265hp 2.0-litre sitting in the range-topping Cupra. This latter engine drags the Leon ST to 60mph in little over six seconds and combines with the car’s enjoyable drive to make quite the fast estate.
The ride is generally very good and the car is well damped – it’ll keep you and your things comfy. Sporty FR models are a little firmer, but not too much so.
The car’s electronic differential brakes the front wheels individually in response to lost grip, so it takes bends pretty well. There’s a slight lack of involvement due to the light steering, but it’s a good thing to chuck about should the mood ever take you.
A sturdily built dashboard that could do with a bit more colour.