A sharper-looking alternative to the Golf Estate
- Impressive all-round drive and comfort levels
- Good range of equipment on SE Technology cars upwards
- Plenty of engines on offer
- Sharp styling
- Not quite as practical it’s Golf Estate sibling
- Base S-spec car feels fairly sparse
- Cabin lacks premium feel
- Lack of physical buttons around infotainment screen is frustrating
The SEAT Leon ST is an estate version of the Spanish brand’s popular hatchback. With a wide range of Volkswagen Group engines and gearboxes, it’s a decent thing to drive, and it’s packed with standard kit too.
Little of the car’s attractiveness has been lost in the estate transition, but what’s gained is a larger boot: up 207 litres over the five-door hatchback’s cargo bay at 587 litres with the rear seats up. Fold them flat for larger loads and you’ll liberate 1,470 litres of space.
It's biggest rival comes from in-house, with Volkswagen's Golf Estate sharing many components with the Leon ST. Other cotenders in this category include the Ford Foucs Estate, Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and the Skoda Octavia Estate.
Updated in 2016
In order to keep things fresh the Leon was given a few updates as part of a mid-life update, including a remodelled bumper and grille, plus optional LED headlights, front fog lights and indicators. A new-top-spec Xcellence trim level was also added.
Inside a 5.0- or 8.0-inch infotainment system was transplanted into a new look centre console. More storage was added thanks to a space saving electronic parking brake, so you can now add a wireless charging pad for your smartphone.
Finally two new engine options were added – a more powerful version of the 1.6-litre diesel, plus a 1.0-litre, 115hp petrol unit made its way to the UK having already been sold in Europe. A new-top-spec Xcellence trim level was also added.
Lighter weight equals greater efficiency
Despite being 27cm longer than the hatchback, the Leon ST is only 45kg heavier. This is thanks to SEAT using lightweight construction methods in the conversion to estate form. This benefits fuel consumption and emission figures, which in most cases are only slightly inferior to the hatchback’s.
Three petrol engines and three diesels
Under the Leon ST’s bonnet is a choice of nine turbocharged engines, all of which are familiar from other SEATs. Depending on which motor you go for, the Leon ST will be available with either a five- or six-speed manual gearbox as well as a quick-shifting seven or six-speed (the latter in the case of the Cupra) twin-clutch DSG automatic.
Petrol fans can choose between 1.0-, 1.2-, 1.4- and 1.8-litre turbocharged engines, producing from between 110hp and 180hp. There’s also a 300hp 2.0-litre turbocharged Cupra model for performance fans.
If you require the greater economy of diesel motoring then there’s everything from a 115hp 1.6-litre to a 190hp 2.0-litre TDI. The latter manages a claimed 68.9mpg while emitting just 121g/km of CO2 and 61.4mpg, despite being the fastest accelerating model.
Good equipment levels on most versions
All Leon ST’s come with standard equipment such as air-con, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a five-inch colour infotainment screen. However, upgrading to SE Technology trim brings about a noticeable increase in kit levels, adding sat-nav, an eight-inch infotainment screen, DAB digital radio and 16-inch alloy wheels as standard.
The Parkers Verdict
The SEAT Leon ST has plenty going for it. Combining sharp styling with accomplished practicality levels is no mean feat, but SEAT has managed it, also adding in accomplished driving manners to boot.
However, the biggest frustration comes from the fact that, thanks to Volkswagen Group politics, it’s not quite as good as it could be and, ultimately, lags behind its Volkswagen Golf Estate sibling. That said, the Leon ST is still a good car in its own right, making a stylish and practical family estate.
Read the full SEAT Leon ST Estate review to find out more
What owners say about this car
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Boot space (altough wasted space beneath spare wheel), sensors. Read owner review