Since the last report, the Leon has been rather busy, and I couldnít be happier. Lots of trips, with all sorts of luggage, furniture and people on board have been the ideal test of this family workhorse.
After drives to Austria and the Alps in our long-term Honda CR-V and SEAT Ateca earlier in the year, we planned to take a few short (and cheaper!) trips instead of going on a long holiday this summer, and the Leon was in its element. The first was light work, involving just a weekend dash from Staffordshire to Twickenham for a U2 concert with two people on board and few overnight bags.
The addition of the seventh gear fitted to the DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox feels like a welcome addition on the motorway, with the engine sitting at just under 2,500rpm at 70mph. Of course, itís of even greater benefit when you inevitably hit patches of traffic, saving your left leg from clutch duties. I have found thereís more of a technique to driving with DSG than I expected though, mainly because of the stop start system, and itís training me to be like a ballerina on the pedals. Press the brakes too hard as you pull up at a give-way junction, roundabout, or in traffic, and the engine will cut out rather abruptly. If you want to pull off again, this can lead to a jerky, and even a potentially dangerous, hesitation as the engine springs back to life before you pull away. So, Iíve been training my feet to gently squeeze the brakes just above the point where the stop-start intervenes, and press hard if I want it to activate and save on some fuel. Anticipate when youíll need to pull away and a quick stab of the throttle brings the engine to life, so itís ready when you need to get going.
In fact, I went through a phase of turning the stop-start system off altogether, but trying to bring up the average fuel economy has persuaded me to give it another go. Yes, the Leon is some way off its claimed 67.3mpg, but I guess thatís to be expected. The vast majority of trips are short hops into our local town centre, and on longer journeys Iíve seen economy reach the high 50s.
Most of these longer jaunts were on our second trip to the South Downs, between Portsmouth and London. After signing up to a house-sitting website, we found ourselves with free accommodation on the proviso we kept the ownerís two Labradors out of harm’s way, fed and watered. And, as a cat owner, I can now tell you the Leon ST is ideal for dog walkers. Even the 13-year-old had no problem hopping over the low loading sill, and both seemed very happy laying down back there. The retractable load cover proved handy ñ quickly whizzing out of the way without having to remove it completely. The two cubbies at either side of the boot came into their own too, being perfect for dog leads, water bottles and bowls.
Date arrived 10th May 2017
Fuel economy 67.3mpg (combined) 50.6mpg (on test)
The boot is dog-friendly, thanks to its low lip, good size and retractable cover.
The stop and start system can lead to heart-in-the-mouth moments at junctions.