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Seat Leon ST 1.6TDI SE Ecomotive review

Date: 10 November 2016   |   Author: Debbie Wood

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £20,590
Key rival: Ford Focus Estate

The Seat Leon hatchback is one of the best-looking cars in its segment. Its razor-sharp lines and angular features give the car a striking look and, happily, little of the attractiveness is lost in the estate version, which is 27cm longer with a significantly bigger boot.  

We're just weeks away from driving the revised Leon, which is due to arrive in UK showrooms in February. So we thought now was a good time to get behind the wheel of the current car to find out if this Ecomotive version, which is yet to be confirmed in the new line-up, is worth picking before the new car arrives.

Stylish looks

Disappointingly, the stylish exterior design of the Leon ST (stands for Sports Tourer) is not reflected inside the car. More budget than refined, the quality of materials around the cabin are basic, but that said, it's functional and easy to navigate.

The infotainment system, which not too long ago was one of the most advanced in the market, is also starting to feel dated, a reflection of how quickly technology has evolved over the past few years.

Our test car is in the popular SE trim and offers cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, tinted windows, aircon, six speakers and a USB port as standard. Seat has also been throwing in a Technology Pack recently, which includes DAB radio, satnav and LED lights at no extra cost.


It's disappointing to see kit like parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers missing, but options are cheap: our car is fitted with a package called Full Link, which incorporates Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink for a reasonable £150, while the Convenience Pack, which gets you those automatic lights and wipers plus additional interior lighting, costs just £200 extra.

Performance compromise

On paper this Leon ST has some impressive figures to its name, starting with an official combined fuel economy of 78.5mpg and CO2 emissions of just 94g/km.

Mated to the engine is a five-speed manual gearbox. Although fine when driving around town, the car really misses a sixth gear on the motorway, where the engine begins to strain as you climb up to 70mph. With 110hp and 250Nm of torque, 0-62mph is officially achieved in 10.6 seconds.


Although the car feels a little sluggish to get up to speed, its handling is just as accomplished as the hatchback, showcasing composure and grip in the corners while proving comfortable over long-distance commutes.

Estate practicality

You can pick the Leon in three bodystyles: hatchback, coupe and estate. The ST offers a boot that is 207 litres bigger than its hatchback sibling, at up to 587 litres.

Fold down the rear seats and it expands to 1,470 litres. That's bigger than the estate versions of the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, although the Leon ST cannot quite compete with the VW Golf's 605 litres or the Peugeot 308's huge 660 litres.


There's enough space inside the cabin for four adults and ample storage options too.

A 45.8 pence-per-mile figure is competitive in the segment, and the Leon ST's 27.6% residual value is on a par with the Focus too, although cannot match the comparable Astra Sports Tourer's 29.4%.

Seat Leon ST 1.6TDI SE Ecomotive

Model price range: £18,695-£26,775
Residual value: 27.6%
Depreciation: £14,915
Fuel: £4,118
Service, maintenance and repair: £1,465
Vehicle Excise Duty: £0
National insurance: £1,705
Cost per mile: 45.8p
Fuel consumption: 78.5mpg
CO2 (BIK band): 94g/km (18%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £62/£124
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space: 587 litres
Engine size/power: 1598cc/110hp


The Leon ST is a stylish and practical estate that stands up well against its rivals for whole-life costs. The Ecomotive engine isn't the best in the line-up, though - those headline figures compromise performance too much. Although stylish on the outside, the interior needs some attention too. Hopefully, the refreshed car will address this when it comes to the UK in February. If you're considering the Leon ST for the choice list, our advice will be to wait for the new model.
  • Stylish design
  • Big boot
  • Good running costs
  • Handles well
  • Basic interior
  • Noisy diesel engine
  • Lacks key standard equipment