SEAT Leon X-perience estate (2014-2018)
"If you need grippy four-wheel drive without the compromises of an SUV, then you’ll love the SEAT Leon X-perience – but the cheaper Skoda Octavia Scout matches its abilities and has a bigger boot"
- Cheap to run for a four-wheel drive
- Well built, practical interior
- Rugged looks
- Diesel engines can be noisy
- Interior could feel more special
- Mechanically identical to cheaper Skoda Octavia Scout
The SEAT Leon X-perience is the latest model in the growing class of tough family cars based on conventional estates. Its stiffest competition comes from within the Volkswagen Group (which owns SEAT) in the form of the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack and Skoda Octavia Scout. The SEAT copies their formula by raising the suspension of the Leon ST estate and adding grippy four-wheel drive.
The X-perience’s four-wheel-drive system means it can tow heavier loads than the regular Leon ST, while its raised suspension helps it tackle the ruts and bumps of a rough country track.
In truth, many Leon X-periences will be bought on the strength of their rugged looks alone. Raising the ride height gives the model extra presence compared to other Leons (even the faster and cheaper Cupra), while some protective plastic cladding completes the tough image.
Open the door and you’ll immediately notice the typical VW Group interior quality. To its credit, the SEAT boasts a healthy dose of Spanish flair in its dashboard layout, although there’s very little to show that you’ve shelled out for the top-of-the-range model. A generous equipment list that includes climate control, rear parking sensors and all-round electric windows goes some way towards making up for this.
While it’s not as quick as the Cupra, the X-perience comes with a choice of two diesel engines that are a perfect match for the car. The basic model has a 148bhp 2.0-litre, while the top-of-the-range car is fitted with a 182bhp engine paired with a six-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Both offer strong performance and their economy figures are almost identical.
Apart from a slightly raised driving position, the X-perience drives almost exactly the same as any other Leon, which really boosts its appeal. The excessive body lean and slow responses typical of full-on SUVs are absent here, although the Leon X-perience can’t match their off-road ability.
We’d recommend the entry-level model fitted with the 148bhp diesel engine, as this offers everything you need for a reasonable price compared to the range-topper.