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Seat Leon X-perience Test Drive Review

Date: 09 April 2015   |   Author: David Motton

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £26,315
Key rival: Skoda Octavia Scout
On sale: April 2015
Equipment: 7 airbags, 18in alloys, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, 5.8in colour touchscreen, satnav, alcantara and man-made leather upholstery
Engines: Five petrol from 110hp-280hp, two diesel from 110hp-184hp
Trims: SE, SE Technology
Transmissions: 6-spd man, 6-spd auto

Think of the new Leon X-perience as the first wave: the estate car which thinks it's a 4x4, paving the way for a proper Seat SUV in 2016, and the manufacturer intends others to follow.

Until then, if you want a rough and tough Seat, this is it. Beneath the 4x4-lite styling, the X-perience is essentially a four-wheel drive version of Seat's lower medium estate, the Leon ST.

The car's 4Drive system sends 100% of the engine's power to the front wheels in normal conditions, only transferring up to 50% to the rear wheels if the front tyres struggle for grip. That helps fuel economy and reduces emissions compared with a full-time 4x4 system.

Choose the 150hp diesel engine (the less powerful of the two available), and the car emits 129g/km of CO2. That's significantly lower than rivals such as the Subaru Outback or Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, and exactly matches the Skoda Octavia Scout. That's no surprise, as the Scout and the X-perience share the same drivetrain and engines.

Go for the more powerful 184hp diesel and emissions are identical. This version comes with a DSG semi-automatic transmission, while the 150hp car is manual only.

Having driven both, the extra punch of the 184hp is noticeable, but the 150hp model is no slouch. Overtaking is swift and confident with either engine.

The X-perience rides 28mm further from the ground than the ST, which helps tackle rough tracks with less risk of grounding, and makes little difference to the way the Leon drives on tarmac.

There's a little more lean in corners compared with the regular ST, but the Seat still corners neatly with precise steering and plenty of grip. The ride feels a bit firm at low speeds, but the X-perience is composed and comfortable on A-roads and motorways.

Inside, this Seat will be familiar to anyone who's driven the current-generation Leon. All versions have the same touchscreen, well laid-out switchgear and a solid standard
of build.

Rear-seat space is a little tight - blame a wheelbase that's around 4cm shorter than the Skoda Octavia Scout's - but boot space is a generous 587 litres.

Start tapping on the calculator and the Seat's biggest weakness is mediocre retained value, which means the overall cost-per-mile figure can't match the Skoda's. Even so, the Seat has lower running costs than rivals from Subaru and Vauxhall.

As a business car, though, unless the benefits of four-wheel drive are really important, regular estates like the Leon ST make more financial sense.

Seat Leon X-perience SE Technology 2.0 TDI 150

Model price range                                                                             £15,760-£31,650
Residual value                                                                                                  30.2%
Depreciat­ion                                                                                                       £7950
Fuel                                                                                                                    £5519
Service, maintenance and repair                                                                        £2424
Vehicle Excise Duty                                                                                              £220
National Insurance                                                                                            £2397*
Cost per mile                                                                                                      59.6p*
Fuel consumption                                                                                           57.6mpg
CO2 (BIK band)                                                                                    129g/km (23%)
BIK 20/40% per month                                                                                £101/£202
Warranty                                                                                               3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max)                                                                            587/1470 litres
Engine size/power                                                                                  1968cc/150hp
* 2014/15 tax year


A go-anywhere practical estate, but the regular ST has lower costs
  • Looks
  • Practical boot
  • Competitive emissions
  • Some rivals have more passenger space, regular Leon ST has lower CO2