This is the quickest Leon ST you can buy
Hot hatches needn’t be the preserve of people who like questionable music at questionable volumes at questionable times of the day and night. If you add a boot to some of the best examples, like the VW Golf R or the Ford Focus ST, you get something which is a far more sophisticated and practical offering but which is still a lot of fun to drive.
That’s obviously the thinking with the new Leon estate. Not only does it have decent luggage capacity but it also has four-wheel drive, to drive home, as it were, the practical and sensible layer on top of the 300PS (296bhp) fun to be had.
Seat Leon ST Cupra 2.0 TSI 4Drive 300PS DSG
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol
Gearbox: Six-speed automatic
Kerb weight: 1545kg
Top speed: 155mph
CO2/tax band: 164g/km, 31%
It’s based on the Leon ST 300 Cupra that has just had a facelift. That means another 10bhp and a bit more torque, some updates to the cabin including a new touchscreen infotainment system, and some other bits you’ll probably not really notice.
That all sounds perfectly sensible, so how quickly will it get you and the remains of your old shed to the tip? Really rather quickly, and it doesn’t matter much if it’s raining either. There’s a really decent spread of power from 2500rpm up to the redline, and it’s really linear. This is made the most of by the DSG twin-clutch auto transmission, which shifts quickly and smoothly, except for at lower speeds when it can be a bit of a jerk to be honest.
The handling is sharp but there’s no question that the estate handles better than the hatchback. Take that, bass boy. In the hatchback you could be left scrabbling for grip on the exit from corners, and of course that was much worse if the weather was its usual inclement self. But with the 4Drive working you get instant exit speed instead of a traction control light having a fit.
The well-weighted steering is another very positive aspect to enjoying a cross-country journey, and that’s not all the driver has to play with. The new infotainment system works well and – note this bass boy – there is only one rotary dial now and it has one purpose: turning the volume up or down.
Actually overall it sounds like a great system as you can pinch and swipe like on a smartphone but, trying to make it work on the move, can be really rather trying.
Overall though the cabin is great, and of course bigger than before. You get sports seats up the front which hold you tight even when cornering hard, yet at the rear you have 587 litres of cargo space, even more if you drop the rear seats.
That pretty much sums up this new Leon ST Cupra. You have a practical, sensible and well-equipped estate car to take the family on holiday. It even has four-wheel drive for when the road gets tricky or you find yourself on a muddy verge somewhere. Yet this same car can be a fun-filled hooligan down a B-road of your choice, and that same four-wheel drive system will aid you in cornering even faster than ever. What a great combination.
It’s fun. How much fun? Even more fun than a Ford Focus ST Estate. So we’re talking fun. However, before we get totally carried away there is one small point you need to consider.
Everything we’ve said here, about the practicality combined with the hooning ability, can also be said of the VW Golf R Estate – and that goes right down to the slightly irritating infotainment system. If the Seat was a fair bit cheaper it would earn its place no question. But, if you’re buying outright, it’s only £170 cheaper. In the greater scheme of things, that’s a rounding error.
It gets worse. If you’re like a lot of people and buying on PCP finance, there are some excellent deals around for the VW, but there aren’t for the Seat. Which ends up meaning that the more desirable – and it is more desirable – Golf R Estate is actually a fair bit cheaper than this Seat ST Cupra. Which is tough, because we love this car.