From £18,2358
The Leon ST beats all competitors on style, and thanks to this new petrol engine is also remarkably efficient

Our Verdict

Seat Leon ST

The stylish new Seat Leon ST is a comfortable, practical and spacious alternative to the likes of the Skoda Octavia estate

Mark Tisshaw
15 September 2014

What is it?

Seat’s Leon estate, equipped with the Volkswagen Group’s latest hi-tech 1.4 TSI petrol engine. The engine is already offered on VW and Audi models, and now finds its way into the Seat range.

The engine replaces the previous 138bhp 1.4 TSI in the Leon range, adding cylinder-deactivation technology in the process. Power is up by 10bhp and performance is usefully improved, while economy is also up from 55mpg to 60.1mpg and CO2 emissions dropping from 122g/km to 109g/km.

The engine is only offered in sporty FR spec and is available on all three Leon bodystyles. We’re testing the ST estate model here.

What's it like?

Very nice indeed. The 1.4 TSI engine was always a sweet spot in the Leon range, and this improves things further. It’s smooth and refined - so quiet at times you wonder if it’s actually on - and also offers decent performance, pulling strongly both from standing and through the gears. The gearshift is slick, too. 

The engine also switches seamlessly between running on four cylinders and on two cylinders under light loads, the only way you can tell is from a read out on the instrument cluster telling you that you're in two cylinder mode.

On our 200-mile test route taking in mainly motorway running, an indicated 47mpg was returned. Some way off the official 60.1mpg figure, then, but very impressive indeed for an engine with these performance figures.

Elsewhere, it’s more of the same Leon ST dynamics we’ve become accustomed to: a compliant ride, tidy handling and steering that is precise but lacks feel.

Standard equipment is impressive in the FR, and it also looks the part inside and out with its own bespoke sporty bumpers, twin chrome exhaust pipes, tinted rear glass, sports seats, racy interior trim and FR badging. 

Our test car was equipped with an optional set of £380 18-inch alloys, which look smart and ruin neither the bank balance or ride quality. Alloys of 17 inches in diameter are standard.

Should I buy one?

Equipped with this new engine, the Leon ST is a car that ticks many boxes - space, performance, economy and a decent drive among them - in an increasingly competitive class, and one that should be on our shopping list.

A Ford Focus offers a better drive, a VW Golf an extra layer of polish and a Skoda Octavia more space, but the Leon’s appeal lies in the way it blends so many qualities, and trumps anything in the class on style. 

Seat Leon ST FR 1.4 TSI ACT 150 PS

Price £20,995; 0-62mph 7.9sec; Top speed 134mph; Economy 60.1mpg; CO2 109g/km; Kerb weight 1277kg; Engine 4cyls, 1395cc, turbocharged; Power 148bhp at 5000-6000rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1500-3000rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual

15 September 2014
And I'm mega impressed by the fact that it's hard to tell when the engine switches to two cylinder mode at low load. Makes it very hard to justify having a diesel when petrol engines are this good. I'd imagine this engine would be an absolute cracker if installed in something a bit lighter.

15 September 2014
At over 4.5 m its a big car, would not look out of place in the class above ? I thought TSI motor was turbo + supercharger but this appears to be just turbo ? If it pulls from low revs it would be a good alternative to a small diesel.

15 September 2014
Andrew 61 wrote:

At over 4.5 m its a big car, would not look out of place in the class above ? I thought TSI motor was turbo + supercharger but this appears to be just turbo ? If it pulls from low revs it would be a good alternative to a small diesel.

Like its Octavia/Golf siblings it has a large boot relative to the size class of the car which accounts for the extra length, 600+ litre loadspace I think.

The twin charged TSI engine is reserved for the higher output stuff like the 185ps A1 and Fabia vRS. I've got a Focus Ecoboost as well as a modern diesel and am impressed by how well the Focus pulls, I'd imagine with the extra torque of this TSI engine it would pull very nicely.


15 September 2014
I really like the Leon and this engine sounds superb. Autocar are known for their leaden right foot so I would have though 50mpg+ would be achievable day to day. My only concern is reliability. I've no issue with small turbocharged engines but I've heard VAG have had issues with the 1.4 TSI, and not just confined to the complex twincharger version. I hope it's reliable because the stats are seriously impressive but it's a little nagging doubt in my mind.

15 September 2014
Strange that the A3 version is 10 hp down and quite a bit slower to 60. Seat getting preference over Audi in the VW group!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

15 September 2014
xxxx wrote:

Strange that the A3 version is 10 hp down and quite a bit slower to 60. Seat getting preference over Audi in the VW group!

The A3 uses the same 150hp engine as this Leon.


15 September 2014
bomb wrote:
xxxx wrote:

Strange that the A3 version is 10 hp down and quite a bit slower to 60. Seat getting preference over Audi in the VW group!

The A3 uses the same 150hp engine as this Leon.

That's interesting 'cause a few weeks ago it was 140 bhp and an 8.4 0-60 time. But now it's 150, wonder if they put the price up, will check.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

15 September 2014
"but the Leon’s appeal lies in the way it blends so many qualities, and trumps anything in the class on style. " Unfortunately only stylish on the outside. The interior, especially the dash and centre console, looks very dull and rather dated.

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

15 September 2014
Frightmare Bob wrote:

"The interior, especially the dash and centre console, looks very dull and rather dated.

Quite possibly, but if its a choice of this or the multicoloured over buttoned fisher price interiors that some offer, I'll settle for dull and dated every time.

Sounds like a great engine, why not apply the same technology to a diesel. An obvious step surely.

15 September 2014
when a journalist opens a write-up with a subjective statement. Leon may be the better looking of the VW stablemates but does it really merit an all-sweeping statement like "beats all competitors" on style?

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