2014 Seat Leon ST revealed
* New estate version of Leon hatch revealed * Longer car gets 587 litres of boot space * On sale in October, first deliveries in January...
This is the all-new 2014 Seat Leon ST, an estate version of the Leon hatchback.
It's the first time the model has been available in estate form, and, together with the three- and five-door hatchbacks, it completes the Leon family line-up.
Seat hopes the ST will capitalise on the enthusiastic welcome given to the Leon hatchback, and that its added practicality will capture sales in the growing marketplace for mid-sized estates.
The Seat Leon ST is the third of the Volkswagen Group's family hatchbacks to be offered in estate form, after the Skoda Octavia and VW Golf. All three cars along with the Audi A3 share the same platform.
This new model is 4535mm long, which makes it 272mm longer than the hatchback and has 587 litres of boot space with the rear seats up. This beats the load space offered by many rivals, including the Ford Focus Estate and Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and is 207 litres more than that of the hatch. However, it's less than the new Golf Estate's impressive 605 litres and the Octavia Estate's 610.
Pulling a pair of handles in the boot can lower its rear seats, and the resulting space is easily accessible thanks to the low loading lip.
Dropping the seats increases the ST's capacity to 1470 litres, although you'll find 150 litres more in the Golf Estate. For outright load space, however, both are beaten by the Kia Ceed Sportswagon's 1642 litres.
All models come with a multi-level boot floor, similar to those in the Golf and Octavia, which helps to ensure both a flat load area and a hidden space.
Inside, the quality of materials used is impressive if not quite up to Golf standards and the dashboard is simple, functional and easy to use.
There's multi-function display sited between the rev-counter and speedometer, while the touch-screen infotainment system is easy to access at the top of the fascia.
There's no shortage of cabin space either, with more than enough room up front, and plenty of head- and legroom for three adults in the rear.
Specifications haven't been confirmed, but it is likely that Seat will mirror the hatchback range and offer three trims S, SE and FR.
Entry-level S models get seven airbags, air-conditioning, Bluetooth and a colour touch-screen. SE models add ambient interior lighting, 16-inch alloys, front foglights and cruise control, while range-topping FR includes 17-inch alloys, sportier front and rear bumpers, dual-zone climate control, LED tail-lights, and twin chrome tailpipes.
We expect Seat to match the hatchback engine options, too. The entry-level petrol model is a 104bhp 1.2-litre turbocharged unit. There's also a 138bhp 1.4 turbo, the same engine that's in the A3 and Golf, while the most powerful petrol unit at launch will be the 178bhp 1.8 turbo.
We can also expect hotter Cupra versions to follow. A four-wheel-drive ST, based on the forthcoming Golf 4Motion, is expected at some stage in 2014.
The diesel options include the new 1.6 TDI Ecomotive, which emits just 88g/km of CO2, and will be available from launch. We also expect Seat to offer the regular 1.6 with 104bhp, a 2.0 with 148bhp, and a 182bhp 2.0-litre unit.
The Leon ST will make its debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September, and Seat says the new car will be highly competitive on price. It'll undercut the Golf Estate and be priced closer to the Skoda Octavia.
This suggests the Leon ST will start from around 16,000, which should make it as good a proposition as the hatchback. Order books opens this October and deliveries will start in January.
By Mark Pearson