Test drive: SEAT Leon ST X-Perience

The classic station wagon is the epitome of automotive reason: maximum space in minimal space, large flap and a lot behind it, limousine-like driving behavior with the same consumption. Adventure? No thanks. The classic off-road vehicle is in many ways the opposite. In short, this is the main reason why station wagons with an adventure look are booming with almost all manufacturers.

Likewise Seat has such a station wagon with the Leon ST in “X-Perience” dress. And until March 31, even with a 2.000 euro discount on all official list prices from 28.750 euros. The Volkswagen subsidiary already manages to document the Spaniards' special demands: up to the waist of plastic-covered adventurers, but also in the elegant, practical line that has made the model a long-awaited bestseller on offer.

A frozen bend in wintry Tyrol is the moment of truth - here you can quickly and involuntarily turn into the terrain. But although things are progressing quickly, the Spaniard does not allow himself to be thrown off course. The steering wheel is so calm in the hand as if it were midsummer. Thanks to the all-wheel drive based on the Haldex system of the meanwhile fifth generation, which is already working in the technical counterpart Skoda Octavia Scout.

The multi-plate clutch reacts extremely quickly and almost unnoticed by the driver to the roadway feedback. In the case of gravel, ice, snow, the power of the normal front-wheel drive moves continuously to the rear wheels in milliseconds. The Seat can do that perfectly and smoothly. The electronic differential locks on both axles also work efficiently - and unnoticed. The meandering toboggan run up to the Graf-Ferdinand-Hütte near Kühtai drives the Seat like on rails - and faster than the sled downhill.

Even the basic diesel with 1,6 liters and 81 kW / 110 PS also cuts a fine figure in winter sports. The standard start-stop system ensures this if the promised 4,7 liters of average consumption for 100 kilometers have also been clearly missed. But that cannot be avoided even in snow, fast cornering and frequent all-wheel drive.

Front apron with additional protective elements, side protection, rear bumper with an aluminum look and black roof rails: From April onwards, if you only get this look, the Spaniards will also serve you with two completely normal front-wheel drive variants in the X-Perience look. In addition to the basic diesel mentioned above, there will also be an 25.000 liter petrol engine with 1,4 kW / 92 PS for less than 125 euros, which does without all-wheel drive.

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There is little to be felt inside of the off-road vehicle style - after getting into an interior that is three centimeters higher. The Leon ambience rules here, since it has already convinced so far. Only a few badges, special trims and the leather-alcantara combination show that this is a special experience.

In contrast to some competitors, the Spaniards did not exaggerate the feeling of adventure when it came to setting up the suspension. The Seat shows no tendency to shake even when riding through deep furrows - and on normal roads it drives just like any Leon. Pleasant, direct, a bit more jagged than a Skoda Octavia, for example. The seats with very good lateral support, combined with the precise steering, provide a very good feeling for the right lane even on rough terrain. Even more ground clearance - and the Leon would compete with real SUVs. But he doesn't want to. A Seat SUV based on the next VW Tiguan will follow in the coming year.

For the fraction, which is also in a hurry on snow, there is the top two-liter TDI engine with 135 kW / 184 hp, which accelerates the 1,5 tonne truck to 224 km / h. Incidentally, the strongest diesel also makes a loud sound - which a more insulated Golf Alltrack can do more decently. Incidentally, the two-liter TDI with 110 kW / 150 PS is already very jagged on the road, but not as standard as the top engines with DSG, but with six-speed gearbox. The only petrol engine available is the 1,8-liter TSI (132 kW / 180 PS), which also shifts via a DSG transmission. We spread the mantle of silence over the average consumption figure of 6,5 liters. In the snow flurry, the value is far away.

In contrast to the classic combination values ​​mentioned at the beginning. Despite the all-wheel drive, the Leon ST-X-Perience customer doesn't have to cut corners when it comes to loading. The extremely space-saving rear axle ensures that the volume of the civilian model of 587 liters and, with the rear seats folded down, a maximum of 1470 liters is retained. The optional navigation system has an off-road mode with a compass. At least for everyday adventure.

Author: Peter Weissenberg / SP-X

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