Whenever a new long-term test car is delivered to Dredge Towers, a long journey to the Lake District usually follows soon after, as I go on one of my weekend walks.
That hasn’t happened with the load-lugging Leon ST – yet – so the miles haven’t been piled on quite as quickly as usual. But that’s not to say it’s been having an easy life.
Its most recent trip was from my Droitwich base to the spring Beaulieu autojumble, with three friends plus Jasper the dog. Jasper can be pretty excitable at the best of times and he’s not a small dog, so the best car to carry him in is one with a boot the size of a football pitch. While the SEAT can’t quite boast that, the tranquility we enjoyed on that 300-mile round trip suggests that the Leon’s boot is pretty commodious, having now gained the Jasper seal of approval. Bearing in mind that on the return leg, we had to accommodate rather more than we carried down to Hampshire (you can never have too many old car parts or literature on long-forgotten marques), the SEAT acquitted itself particularly well, soaking up the junk (er, ‘collectibles’) and miles with aplomb.
Now we’ve had the chance to try out the Leon in a wide variety of situations, it’s proving hugely likeable – although if we’re honest, this was arguably a foregone conclusion. One of the high spots is the touch-screen multi-media system, which is a model of clarity and incredibly easy to use. It sounds good too; there’s plenty of power and the fitment of a subwoofer means the main speakers aren’t overloaded with low notes if I’m listening to a bass-heavy track. However, while the sound quality is excellent and the menus are easy to navigate, somehow the developers managed to overlook a simple task from these menus. Recently, I needed to go from Droitwich to Guildford and I wanted to set a car park before I left. I could set an address in Guildford or I could choose from an array of car park options near to me (which at the time of setting things up was in my start point of Droitwich) – but I couldn’t set a point of interest at my destination, which was amazingly fustrating. In the end, I had to set it for the centre of Guildford, then reprogramme the system once I’d got there, to find me a car park. Of course this is a mere niggle, but it’s disappointing nonetheless – especially as my previous test car, a Volvo V70, offered both of these features, and one of that car’s biggest disappointments was its multi-media system. But it’s hardly a deal breaker. After all, the Leon has now got the Jasper thumbs up, as it were, and that’s not something that’s awarded very lightly.
|Whats Hot:||The levers, either side of the boot, allow the seat back to be dropped down incredibly easily; naturally, thereís a 60/40 split too.|
|Whats Not:||The adaptive cruise control works well, but its controls are hidden behind the steering wheel; they should be on the wheel itself.|
|Date arrived:||14th March 2014|
|Mileage to date:||4,961 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||72.4mpg (official combined)
48.2mpg (on test)