The SEAT Leon is one of the top-selling cars in our stable of long-termers, with 165,000 finding homes across Europe in 2016. In fact, it was the Leonís best year since its launch in 1999, and a recent facelift has only made it more competitive. In keeping with the theme of democracy, ëourí Leon ST estate, should also be one of the most popular trim levels, with the SE Dynamic Technology specification sitting one rung above the entry-level model.
Even the standard Leon S is well-equipped, with essential features like air conditioning and Bluetooth, but with steel wheels itís a bit ëno frillsí. With such a sharp and stylish shape, the Leon looks far better with the 17-inch ëDynamicí alloy wheels fitted to the SE Dynamic Technology trim weíve gone for. The rims themselves are really stylish, with a hint of classic BBS wheels about them. Iíve already invested in a powerful wheel cleaning spray though, because with 20 spokes they look worryingly fiddly to clean by hand.
Other trim highlights include an electric handbrake with automatic hold, and very importantly, an eight-inch Media System Plus infotainment system with a CD player, two USB ports, a pair of SD card sockets, DAB radio, navigation and eight speakers. Weíve also added Full Link at a cost of £150, to enable Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink smartphone compatibility. As a big Android Auto fan who uses Google Maps or Waze navigation to spot traffic problems, this is a worthwhile investment, but itís a shame SEAT charges for a feature thatís free in many rivals.
While not overly exciting, the £240 Convenience Pack Plus and £110 space-saving spare wheel were easy options to tick, because anyone who spends a lot of time on the road will appreciate the automatic headlights, rain sensor and auto-dimming rear view mirror. While not essential, the LED interior lighting is bright and makes the car feel more modern. Itís also reassuring to have a proper spare wheel when travelling far from home, sometimes late at night.
The last few options we chose are the costliest, but define the personality of the car. First up is the Monsoon Grey metallic paint (£575), which is in stark contrast with the bright orange SEAT Ateca the Leon ST has replaced on the fleet. In comparison, the grey paintwork looks a bit sober, but I still think it really suits the car, and hopefully should stave off dirt pretty well, too. If you want to save money on the colour, Mediterranean Blue is quite attractive for a free paint option, while white costs £250 extra.
While quite pricey, we plumped for the Full LED headlight option for £1,025, but this does far more than make visibility better at night. The new light clusters feature wraparound LED daytime running lights which also double as indicators (the brightest Iíve ever seen), totally changing the look of the car. The pack also adds LED front fog lights with cornering functionality, and the slim LED rear light clusters really sharpen up the already svelte tailgate.
Fitted with a 114bhp 1.6-litre TDI engine, which gets a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, we instead chose to try out the seven-speed DSG automatic. Sadly this doesnít come with paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel ñ you need to step up to the sporty FR trim to get those ñ but itís already impressing with the speed of its shifts, even if it does take a little getting used to when parking to avoid any jerkiness.
The boot has already been called into action, hauling kit for a school sports day, and measuring 587 litres it certainly has enough space for most families. You can drop the rear seats down with handles mounted in the boot, and while they donít sit completely flat, doing so frees up 1,470 litres of luggage capacity. Itís a significant advantage over the 380 litre boot of the Leon hatchback, and while the Golf and Octavia Estates are bigger still, I like the less practical, but stylish slanted boot of the ST.
Date arrived 10th May 2017
Fuel economy urban/extra urban/combined 62.8/68.9/67.3mpg
The SE Dynamic Technology trim offers good value for money thanks to its plentiful kit.
SEAT’s seven-speed DSG automatic can be a bit jerky in tight parking spots.