It is not so long ago that anything other than premium brand cars were pretty basic, poorly equipped and frankly a bit dull.
These cars were driven out of necessity rather than by someone who had a real desire to drive one.
Indeed to put it bluntly, these cars themselves were not enticing, you never felt the desire to buy one, but all that has changed.
This week I am road testing another example of such cars the stylish Seat Leon Sports Tourer. Seat has put some Mediterranean flair into their estate version of the new Seat Leon. The range kicks off at €20,185 for the 1.2 TSi petrol rising to €30,365 for the Leon ST Sports Tourer 2.0 TDi.
I spent some time behind the wheel of the Leon Sports Tourer ST 1.6 TDi in SE trim to see how it stacks up. There are three trim levels, S, SE, and FR, with a choice of 1.2 and 1.8 petrols or 1.6 and 2.0 TDi diesels.
Seat as most will know is part of the Volkswagen Group. Seat however while benefiting from VW’s undoubted engineering expertise produce a very different car to the mainstay offerings from VW. Seat offer cars with a great flair in their style and a more sporting theme, and so it is with the Leon. The model on test, the SE is the second trim level available (one above the base model).
Undoubtedly the Seat Leon Sports Tourer is one of the smarter looking estate cars on the road today. It has that real touch of Mediterranean flair making it stand out from the crowd.
The cabin is well finished if a bit oppressive as in my test car everything was black.
The large swathe of black dashboard plastic looks a bit bland particularly on the passenger’s side. That said the instruments are laid out in a style more akin to a sports coupe than a 5-door estate and the effect is to give a distinctive sporty feel to the cabin. It all feels very well put together with a feel of quality evident throughout.
This diesel also features Start/Stop technology further reducing emissions and fuel consumption.
Accommodation both front and rear is good for a car in this class and the load area is very big for a car in this class offering 587 litres of load space with the rear seats in place rising to a massive 1,470 with the rear seats folded down.
The 4 cylinder 1.6 litre diesel produces 105 bhp and is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Overall performance is pretty good. In practice it goes just fine and proves lively enough. On the economy front it scores highly burning on average just 6.3 litres per 100km on my test. This 1.6 TDI also falls into the lowest category A for road tax. On the road it proves lively and nimble with agile handling. The “Progressive Steering” is light and precise, in general it proves to be an enjoyable car to drive. Noise levels are well suppressed giving the Leon Sports Tourer a refined and quiet cabin even at motorway speeds.
The Seat Leon iSports Tourer is competing in a very competitive segment dominated by the likes of Ford and Opel and indeed their own VW Group car the excellent Golf Estate, to name but a few, nevertheless it can hold it’s own, and while it is never going to outsell any of the above it will continue to carve a niche for itself in the Irish market with those who seek an excellent and versatile all-rounder. The Seat Leon Sports Tourer 1.6 TDi SE costs €26,475.
The instruments are laid out in a style more akin to a sports coupe than a 5-door estate and the effect is to give a distinctive sporty feel.