SEAT Leon ST estate
Price £18,695 - £25,690
- Stylish design
- Great range of engines
- Fun to drive
- Beaten by rivals on boot space
- Costs a lot more than the hatchback
- Uncertain reliability
At a glance
“With its stylish looks and practical interior, the SEAT Leon ST is a great small family estate car.”
The SEAT Leon estate (known as the Leon ST) forms one-third of a VW Group trio that also includes the Volkswagen Golf Estate and Skoda Octavia Estate. All three cars have their own separate character. The VW has the classiest image and finish, while the Skoda is the most spacious. The SEAT's unique selling point, meanwhile, is its striking styling.
Because the Leon ST is essentially a Volkswagen Golf with a restyled body, you can expect great things from this car – and the hatchback version won the Carbuyer Best Family Hatchback award in 2014. To the standard car's many talents (which include superb value for money, lots of equipment, excellent built quality and a fun driving experience) the ST adds a large and very practical boot.
Since taking over SEAT in 1986, Volkswagen has been keen to push the Spanish brand as the sporty member of the VW Group family. To make the Leon ST look even racier, you can choose from a range of optional features that set it apart from the crowd. These cover everything from a boot-mounted spoiler to (on the high-performance Cupra model) bright orange alloy wheels.
It's not all show and no go, though – as we’ve come to expect, the SEAT Leon generally offers more performance than a VW Golf of the same price. No model illustrates this better than the recently announced SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280, which comes close to matching the performance of the Volkswagen Golf R, but costs significantly less. Also cheaper than their VW sister models are the super- economical 1.6-litre diesel (our pick of the range) and the four-wheel-drive SEAT Leon ST X-perience, which we’ve reviewed separately.
Even basic S trim comes with a five-inch colour display, air-conditioning, an alarm, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a double boot floor and roof rails. As of January 2015, if you buy your Leon through SEAT Finance, the company will throw in the £1,000 Technology Pack for free. Exceptionally good value, it adds sat nav, powerful all-LED headlights and a DAB digital radio.
The SEAT Leon ST should prove cheaper to run than the equivalent VW Golf over a three-year period
There isn’t really a bad engine in the SEAT Leon ST range – buyers can choose anything from the diesel’s economy through to the Cupra’s racy performance
Their sophisticated suspension makes high-end SEAT Leon ST models more comfortable, while the Cupra’s adjustable dampers offer Comfort and Sport modes
The SEAT Leon ST has a much bigger boot than the hatchback, but it’s eclipsed by rivals from VW and Skoda
The current SEAT Leon ST needs to improve on the poor Driver Power score posted by the old model