SEAT Leon ST FR – Yes Or No? But I’m The Only Voter…


Last day with the Leon ST – will it be a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ vote? Hmm, tricky one but I think overall the Leon estate  is a car I would recommend.

As a piece of eye candy it doesn’t really work for me but as a no-nonsense, practical estate, the latest edition to the Leon family is every inch as good as a Golf estate (and it costs less too).

The Leon doesn’t boast any seriously mouthwatering features – it just does everything an estate should do very well. Spacious, frugal and well-built, it would make a good addition to any family home.

Not on that, it isn’t a Ford or a Vauxhall – which means it also has a bit more street creed too. Go Scotland!



SEAT Leon ST FR – Still As Rare On UK Roads As A Cat On A Lead


The ST estate has only been out a few months – they’re still a rare spot on UK roads. Almost as unusual as seeing a man take a cat for a walk, which is what I did this morning.

To be fair, Hubble the Burmese followed me and the dog around the farm. It makes you wonder why it doesn’t happen more often. In London, where owning a dog is virtually impossible these days, a cat would be much more practical. You could pop your feline in a man bag.

Hubble has also taken to exploring the ST. He’s been roaming the 1470-litre luggage area (only a kitten’s width smaller than a VW Golf estate) and trying to get underneath the moveable boot floor.

We haven’t been for a drive with him yet but it wouldn’t be the first time he has been a stowaway. And although the seats are trimmed in black cloth and alcantara, rather than leather, Hubble thinks they are the cat’s whiskers too…



SEAT Leon ST FR – Are You Sitting Comfortably?


There’s something not quite right about the driving position in the SEAT. I’ve been wriggling around all week, trying to find the perfect spot but it has yet to happen. I am not sitting comfortably.

Car seats these days are soooo much better than they used to be. It’s not so long ago that all we had to fiddle with was a lever to go for and aft, and a tilt for the back of the seat. Actually, my 1972 Land Rover has neither.

After 29 years of testing cars, all I can say is that the best, most ergonomically designed seats are no longer available. Saab were simply brilliant and a survey by the Back Pain Society discovered they had the best support.

Whatever it is about the Leon seat I just can’t identify. The rest of the interior is exceptionally good, even in the back. Maybe it’s just those 29 years of testing cars catching up with me…

SEAT Leon ST – Just What The Buddhist ordered…


I’ve just interviewed the Buddhist leader, his Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa. It’s not every day that you have a chance to speak to a man who is the head of a religion that has millions of followers around the world. He’s teaching nuns the art of kung fu – a great story for the Times.

The monks and nuns who live in 800 monasteries around the Himalayas enjoy a simple life of meditation, contemplation – and kung fu! They get up at 3am and their high kicking yelps can be heard around the town. Slightly annoying for the neighbours, I’ve read.

If the Drukpa Buddhists were in the market for a fleet of cars, I’d suggest the Leon ST. Why? Well, it’s not too flash, has plenty of room for kung fu followers in the back and won’t bust the budget.

The Leon also has a bit of a kick when you put your foot down. Our test car is the automatic DSG but it doesn’t need much encouragement to go very fast indeed. Only the tyre noise lets it down, ore intrusive than any car I’ve tested for a while…


SEAT Leon ST FR – Why Do Football Fans Leave Their £4k Seat Early?


It’s years since I went to a football match. Watching Manchester City take on Arsenal, what struck me was just how civilised the whole affair had become. At the Emirates, there was no chanting outside of the stadium and people on the Tube were having scientific conversations about the formation Arsene Wenger should use on the pitch.

There was no mad crush to reach the seats, nobody threw a toilet roll and men even queued to reach the hand-dryer in the toilet. What surprised me most however, was that with the score at 2-2 and in the most nail-biting moment of the game near the end, people started to leave! Bonkers – especially as a season ticket is £4,000.

To me, that’s like buying a SEAT Leon estate for £22,255 and then not spending the extra £1000 on the Technology Pack, which includes LED headlights, DAB radio and sat nav. The navigation system on the Leon is brilliant and very easy to use, DAB is a must these days and the LED lights really throw out a beam.

Fortunately, the Pack is currently free as part of a promotion. If you are considering a SEAT estate right now, get in there. The ST might look less than exciting on the eye but it’s a fine car to drive.


SEAT Leon ST FR 180 TSI – Sensible Not Sexy?


Just for a brief moment today I had the Hyundai i40 on the driveway at the same time as the SEAT Leon ST. The two cars cost about the money and have had equally upbeat reviews.

However, Car Couture thinks you should always choose a motor that is as visually appealing as it is sensible – which means there is only one option here.

Yes, the i40. It’s by far the more attractive car. It has stylist lines, proper curves and doesn’t blend in with the crowd when you park it at Waitrose.

I can’t say there is anything wrong with the SEAT, it reminds me of the latest VW Golf in many ways, confidently refined but not about to set the world on fire.

I imagine that might change when I drive it to London tomorrow to watch Manchester City beat Arsenal. 180bhp is a lot of power for a car this size – it’s going to be an interesting week…

Hyundai i40 Tourer – The Lidl of The Automotive World…


Let’s be honest, there was a time when people only bought an Hyundai because it was value for money. It was the Lidl supermarket of the automotive world – alongside Kia and Proton.

Now, just like Lidl, the Korean company is thriving and we are buying loads of them, instead of stalwart favourites from Ford and Vauxhall.

The i40 goes today and we think it’s one of the best offerings from the Hyundai stable. Great to look at inside and out, practical, reliable and still relatively good value for money.

With a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, anyone looking for medium-sized family estate would be crazy not to take one for a test drive.

We have a SEAT Leon ST FR coming today – perhaps a good comparison for the Hyundai but with a more sporty edge…


Hyundai i40 – Beeping Cars, Do We Need Them?


Beeping cars – do we need them? Sounds like a good Tweet. It’s often American motors that have been designed for people who live their life surrounded by safety nets.

You know, cars that have phrases like ‘objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear’ stickers on them, or people who consciously note that a McDonald’s apple pie may have ‘contents that are hot’.

It seems the world is slipping towards a giant safety net to ensure corporations aren’t sued for building cars that ‘might run you over’ if you step out in front of them.

The i40 has it’s fair share of beep warnings. Most are linked to the keyless ignition and can be infuriating. I don’t need a car that tells me I have left the key inside, or in gear, or that I’m reversing too close to the car behind. I know, I can see it over my shoulder.

Where will we be in 50 years time I wonder? It could all be a beeping nightmare…

Hyundai i40 – Silly Car Names, What’s Yours Called?


I’m just setting off to London to interview Tin-Tin Ho. The 16-year-old is a British table tennis protege and she’s going to give me a masterclass in the art of ping-pong.

Her father is obsessed with the game and named her brother Ping – at one point almost naming his daughter Pong too!

Finding the right name for a car is a major task and doesn’t always go right. There was the Dodge Swinger, Honda Life Dunk, Skoda Yeti, Renault Wind, Suzuki Every Joypop Turbo and the Mazda Bongo Friendee.

No wonder Hyundai uses the globally safe i40 – one of the few names beginning with an ‘i’ that isn’t owned by Apple…

Hyundai i40 Tourer – Cute But No Match For A BMW 3 Series


Just for a moment I thought the BMW 3 Series Touring was about to be toppled as my favourite, small family estate car. I was seduced by the lines and styling of the i40 – even prettier than the BMW I thought.

Unfortunately, while the Hyundai is an admirable performer, it just can’t compete with the 3 Series for performance and drivability. The BMW handles like a sports car and is exciting to drive – the i40 is lukewarm by comparison.

You might well expect this from a car that costs considerably less than the BMW but I just wish the Koreans could make a slightly quicker version, then I’d be seriously tempted to buy one.

As it is, the classy looks of the Hyundai aren’t matched by the engine under the bonnet. The 136bhp model we are testing reaches 60mph in 12 seconds, sluggish when compared to many of its key rivals…