Now, we’ve had confirmation that the brand is on a high thanks to its sharp-suited Focus rival, which has seen SEAT UK post its best first-quarter sales results ever in the UK, for January through to the end of March 2014. At the heart of this growth has been the Leon, 34,600 of which were sold, but the Leon ST played its part in swelling SEAT’s coffers, with a healthy 8,000 finding owners in that same three-month period.
Six weeks after our estate edition was delivered, it seems that every other car on the road is a current-generation Leon hatch; but considering one in five examples of the model sold is the load-lugging edition, I’m still seeing very few of them about. Indeed, as I’ve been racking up the motorway miles, I’ve been attempting to do some Leon ST spotting – but they’re conspicuous by their absence. It’s not as though the Leon ST hides its light under a bushel; there isn’t a sharper-looking car in the segment, and I’ve also been discovering just how great it is at carting stuff about. It’s inevitable when swapping from one long-termer to another, that comparisons between the two are made. Considering my previous chariot, a Volvo V70, is one of the most capacious estates on the market, making comparisons with the SEAT – which sits two classes below – seems rather unfair. However, do the sums and the Leon ST acquits itself pretty admirably. With the rear seats in place, the boot can stow an impressive 587 litres (the Volvo is measured at 575), while folding the seats increases this figure to 1,470 litres – just 130 behind the V70. This is despite the Leon ST being almost a foot shorter than the Volvo, so obviously something has to give – and in this case it’s a mixture of boot space and rear seat legroom. But it’s not as though either of these areas is tight; there’s plenty of both, with space in the back even for six-footers.
What really shines though is the practicality and versatility. The rear seats don’t slide, but they fold almost flat, and thanks to the neat split-level boot floor, you can choose between a flat load bay or a deeper boot, should you need the extra height. The ski hatch is pretty much expected nowadays, but still unusual are the levers near the tailgate that allow you to drop the seat backs down without having to reach in. It’s this kind of attention to detail that makes the Leon ST so great to live with on an everyday basis; it’s significantly shorter than the biggest estate cars on the market, but when you’re on the inside, it feels anything but small. No wonder they’re flying out of the showrooms.
|Whats Hot:||The touch-screen satellite navigation is very user-friendly – and itís very effective as well.|
|Whats Not:||When the fuel tank is reasonably full, sometimes you can hear the diesel sloshing about.|
|Date arrived:||14th March 2014|
|Mileage to date:||3,262 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||72.4mpg (official combined)
47.9mpg (on test)