Seat Leon Estate (2022) review: the fun family wagon? | CAR Magazine

2022-06-07 07:31:12 By : Ms. Lisa Wu

► A sportier alternative to the Golf and Octavia wagons ► Petrol, diesel and mild hybrid ► Huge boot

Covering familiar German-sourced mechanicals with a sharp Spanish suit, the Seat Leon Estate is the funky family choice amongst VAG wagons. Yes, sales of SUV continue to rise, but the long roof Leon shouldn’t be overlooked.

Opt for the wagon and the Leon is extended by 274mm to push boot space up to a substantial 617 litres, or more than SUVs from a class or two above in most cases. It’s also more than the closely related Skoda Octavia Estate, Volkswagen Golf Estate and the latest Peugeot 308 SW.

As you’d expect from a product of the Volkswagen group, there’s a wide range of powertrains available. The entirely turbocharged engine range kicks off with a 1.0-litre three-pot petrol with 108bhp in normal manual and mild-hybrid enhanced automatic versions.

Next up is the 1.5 four-cylinder petrol with either 128bhp or 148bhp. The former is manual only, with the latter manual or mild hybrid auto once again. Unless you jump ship and order a Cupra Leon Estate, the auto-only 187bhp 2.0-litre petrol is the swiftest option.

Diesel still features in the range, with a 2.0-litre developing 113bhp or 148bhp. A plug-in hybrid is also on the cards.

A substantial six-hour drive from Cornwall to Manchester posed no problem, the Leon swallowing up the distance with ease and comfort while returning an impressive 53mpg. The long motorway slog revealed an easy-going nature with a firmer edge than the Octavia and Golf. What you lose on initial bump absorption you gain in body control, so there’s less chance of the kids getting queasy.

Our FR Sport test car came on some substantial 18in alloy wheels which generated a fair bit of road noise, something you’ll notice given the hushed engine and well contained wind noise. Smaller wheels are available, with their narrower tyres generating a bit less racket and a bit more comfort.

Don’t expect a great deal of communication from the steering wheel, something that can be said of key rivals as well, although this is no barrier to positioning the Leon exactly where you want it. The weighting and response builds confidence and there’s a real precision to the system.

Indeed, you can travel cross country faster than most passengers will feel comfortable, with impressive grip levels giving way to predicable understeer if you’re too greedy with the right pedal. It’s not the most thrilling thing in the world, but it’s tidy, rolls less than the boatier Octavia and agile enough that you can have a little fun when the family isn’t on board.

Fine. Our test car came with the 1.5-litre 148bhp motor coupled to a smooth-shifting six-speed manual gearbox. The 0-62mph time of 8.9sec is nothing to write home about, but there’s sufficient reserves from low in the rev range when you’re tickling along and just enough poke when you wring it out, too.

Chase the headline power figure and the engine does sound a little strained beyond 5000rpm, but given the economy and low-down poke, it’s the most logical choice in the range. After all, the 1.0-litre is even weaker, while the 2.0-litre is both pricier to buy and run.

Besides, if you do want a compact hot wagon, you’re better served by the Cupra Leon Estate or even better, the Golf R Estate.

The Leon Estate instantly feels sportier than the Octavia and Golf, with the impression of a lower driving impression helped by the slimmer windows. The seats give you a bit more of a cuddle as you sit in them but are still just as comfy as you’d hope for long journeys.

A heavy tint on the windows from the B-pillar back might help protect your kids from UV rays and give them a bit more privacy, but they also make it harder to see out, not helped by a rising window line. There’s plenty of legroom in the rear for grown-ups, but the Leon isn’t the widest car making three-abreast a bit tight while the Isofix mounts are a faff to get to. You’ll certainly appreciate the extra boot space, the cargo area moving from adequate on the hatch to cavernous in the estate.

Predictably, yes. Seat has moved away from physical controls to make almost everything accessed by the touchscreen or touch sensitive icons. It’s more of a faff than buttons or dials, and the infotainment system takes some getting used to thanks to menus that feel like style over user-friendliness.

The Leon FR connects wirelessly to Apple CarPlay, without the need for cables running around the car and will charge your phone wirelessly, too. Android Auto users will need their cable, though. There are plenty of USB-C ports around the vehicle, so everyone and their tablets can be plugged in and charged, with two up front and two in the rear.

The Leon Estate strikes a good balance between practicality and style, combining a big boot, decent driving dynamics and looks that are arguably more appealing than the Octavia and Golf. It’s certainly enough to consider over an oh-so predictable SUV.

Is it the best compact estate out there? Well, the Octavia has even more boot space for similar money while a Golf has that classless appeal that proves so tempting for many. However, if we’re talking about vanilla models, the Leon handles better than both of its brothers and the Peugeot 308 SW, making it our pick.

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