New SEAT Leon Estate 2020 review
We find out if the new SEAT Leon Estate is as attractive as the hatchback
Like the hatchback, the new SEAT Leon Estate is an evolutionary update of its predecessor. It has more usable space, better tech and stronger efficiency in conjunction with the DSG auto gearbox, thanks to the addition of this 1.5 eTSI EVO engine. The estate easily passes muster on practicality and is even fun to drive in some cases, but it’s neither as refined nor as premium-feeling as its Skoda Octavia Estate sibling.
Family SUVs may have overtaken the traditional estate car as the vehicle of choice for the ultimate in practicality; but although SEAT is launching a facelifted version of its Ateca mid-size SUV, the firm is also offering a new Leon Estate.
It’s a car for those who need maximum boot space on a budget, but still buy into the Spanish brand’s sportier ethos compared with its siblings in the Volkswagen Group.
There’s a good deal of space, too. The Leon Estate serves up 620 litres of luggage capacity with the rear seats in place. That’s thanks to a similar focus to the five-door hatch in its development, with this fourth-generation Leon getting a longer wheelbase and better packaging than its predecessor.
The wheelbase is 93mm longer than the last Leon Estate’s, so there’s a good amount of room in the rear of the car, making it very flexible family transport. It’s still based on the MQB architecture – no big changes here – which means it’s modular and easy to manipulate different dimensions to help.
It also means the Leon drives in a familiar fashion, as we’ll see, but the bigger news is the addition of the 1.5-litre eTSI mild-hybrid powertrain we’re testing here.
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It develops 148bhp and 250Nm of torque – the same as the regular 1.5 TSI – but with 48-volt electrics and a belt starter generator in combination with a small lithium-ion battery, it means the car can shut off the engine and coast at higher speeds to help improve its fuel consumption.
Returning a claimed 44.1 to 47.9mpg combined depending on spec, and with CO2 emissions of 133g/km, it’s no more efficient than the standard manual 1.5 TSI EVO according to SEAT’s claims. However, this is the only variant of the engine that’s available with an automatic gearbox, so that helps offset this fact.
The system can also supply a very small boost to help under acceleration, but like any mild hybrid, the car can’t run on electric power alone. In every other respect, though, the powertrain feels entirely conventional. The electric assistance is so small that you don’t really feel it. Instead, the 1.5 TSI’s smooth power and torque delivery means there’s enough performance available low down in the rev range to easily cruise around.
The engine revs sweetly and there’s more performance to tap into if you want to make the most of the chassis. When you push the engine harder, however, it drones – something that’s not helped by the DSG transmission hanging onto gears for a little too long. It’s best to use the manual mode if you’re going to drive like this, because the gearbox then feels a little more responsive.
FR trim gets sports suspension and feels on the firmer side. It has great body control, keeping the Estate flatter, but the rest of the time it tends to shuffle around and fidget a little on its 17-inch alloys. It never totally settles, and the firmer set-up also transmits noticeable road noise at higher speeds.
Inside, refinement and quality are okay, but as in the hatch, there’s a lot of cheap-feeling, hard plastic on the dash and doors. The tech is well integrated, though, and there’s lots of it. A digital dash and a 10-inch central touchscreen with sat-nav, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay are standard, and it’s a responsive set-up with great graphics.
Given that this will be a family car for many, the fact autonomous braking with collision warning is included is a benefit, while all-round parking sensors, LED headlights, wireless phone charging, three-zone climate control and four USB-C charging points all feature, too. You even get metallic paint, so at £27,895 this estate isn’t bad value.
|Model:||SEAT Leon 1.5 eTSI EVO DSG FR Estate|
|Engine:||1.5-litre 4cyl turbo|
|Transmission:||Seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive|