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!
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…
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…
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…
I reckon the spacesaver spare wheel I bolted on the Leon this week is about as wide as the tyres on my very first car – a lime green Morris Minor.
It’s a weird sensation, knowing that one of your wheels is shod with the equivalent of an orthopaedic shoe. Max speed is 50mph but of course, the temptation is to go faster. Or simple forget…
Obviously, they don’t put that many spacesavers in a car but imagine what it would be like driving a hot hatchback – which is definitely how I would class the Leon SC – with FOUR spacesavers?
I’m surprised the ‘light entertainment’ programme that is Top Gear hasn’t pulled the stunt and trashed a perfectly good car in the process.
Modern cars have so much rubber on the road I think we forget how good tyres are these days. But four spacesavers on a SEAT Leon driven by Clarkson along a dangerous mountain pass – I think a lot of people would pay to see that on television…
Rain brings large puddles, which in turn bring potholes! And yesterday the Leon and I met one on the way down to London, with slightly disastrous results…
I thought we had got away with it but eventually, the tyre pressure light came on and I had to pull over. The result – a large nick in the side of the low profile tyre and a 50mph trip to Fulham on the spacesaver.
Not sure what the moral of this story is but the pothole wasn’t that big and I wasn’t driving that fast. At least the SEAT was equipped with easy to use tyre changing gear.
Apparently, most people call the AA or RAC when they have a flat these days. The art of changing a wheel yourself seems to have been left on the hard shoulder. However, the most common reason for calling a roadside recovery service? A flat battery….
Somebody asked me what the Leon SC was like to drive… Well, if you are a gentleman of a certain age then you might just remember the Peugeot 205 GTI, circa 1985.
Yesterday I thrashed the SEAT back home across the Cotswolds in a state of some excitement. For me, a powerful car is nothing unless it is beautifully balanced and capable of making an average driver look and feel good.
The Porsche 911 does this beautifully. A Ferrari may be faster and an Aston Martin more brutish but the 911 doesn’t intimidate people when they slip down behind the steering wheel.
And so you can say the same about the Leon. OK, this is a performance diesel of limited grunt but it inspires you to push on through the gears by being uncomplicated and reassuringly easy to drive.
If you want a more meaningful reason to buy one, the SC is returning over 47mpg in all conditions, easily seats five adults and has VW group build quality as standard.
Personally, five miles across the Cotswolds on a clear road should be enough to swing it for you.
Volkswagen Golf fans should be kicking themselves. Why? Because the Leon is just as good a car and costs around £3,000 less when when you opt for the 2.0 TDI version.
We all know that VW, Audi, Skoda and SEAT share the same platform for many of their cars, yet we seem happy enough to pay a premium for the right badge on the boot. All very odd.
So, if you are about to pay £26,000 for a Golf TDI 2.0, I’d suggest you consider the Leon first. It’s true, the interior isn’t quite as well styled as the VW and the sharp edge of the designer’s pen on the bodywork might be an acquired taste.
But I’m clutching at straws here – this is basically the same car underneath. Which means it is a beautifully balanced drive, loves to be hurled around corners and in 184bhp guise, has incredible amounts of torque. It pulls from 65mph in sixth gear… and keeps on going.
The Leon SC doesn’t have the legendary status of a Golf but it rather deserves to…
I took the Leon to Bletchley Park yesterday. The home of the Government’s top secret Code and Cypher School near Milton Keynes is packed with British technology used to crack German coded transmissions during the Second World War.
Hitler’s Enigma and Lorenz code machines were tough to decipher but the men and women at Bletchley cracked it, using incredible devices like the Colossus, which look like something from a bad Dr Who set and fill an entire room.
Less complicated, thankfully, is SEAT’s infotainment system. I’m still gobsmacked that some manufacturers still manage to create complicated units which aren’t intuitive at all.
The Leon’s touchscreen system is foolproof. So simple you don’t need to be a codebreaker to get to grips with the navigation, Bluetooth or DAB radio. Simples indeed…
Everything on the farm is green – green grass, green wellies and green jackets. This column should be sponsored by Barbour. So, imagine how out of place a brilliant blue SEAT looks parked in the middle of it all.
Thankfully, blue is my second favourite colour, after green. And I also know from reading endless reviews of the new SC, that beauty is much more than skin deep with this car.
Autocar’s Car of the Year, the Leon offers owners the perfect mix of power and economy, with well balanced steering, annual road tax of only £20 a year and sharp if unspectacular looks.
So, what’s not to like? Well, nothing so far. Even the delivery driver was cooing and seemed reluctant to hand over the key. Let’s see if we feel the same after seven days….