From the front, the SEAT Leon ST looks young, fast, and lean. Face on the especially attractive grille and LED rhombus headlights dominate. Any SEAT fan could easily deceive themselves that they were in a sportier compact model, because of how the Leon ST handles and feels inside. However, as we smugly parked it next to an Ibiza, the Leon’s size from the side becomes more apparent.
“Sporty family car,” as it is described on the commercial website, is simply an oxymoron by anyone’s standards. The SEAT hints that it might be fast as you turn the key (the list of little things that SEAT skimped on starts here) as the Leon does not have a contactless ignition that you would now almost expect as standard. It roars into first gear, but as soon as you shift to second the ST reverts to family mode. It calms down into an acceptable purr immediately, though the sport option on the gear stick does suggest it could be quicker off the mark. The ‘fun option’ isn’t really necessary for the standard target market, when would you use Sport Mode with the booster seat in the back and the stroller in the trunk? However, if you drive with the spirit of a youngster in their first car, but just need more space for transporting friends to parties or carrying sports equipment around, when the Leon isn’t fully loaded, you’ll get a kick out of using the option on a free strip of road. “You don’t need me now but if you did, I could be really sporty,” winks the Leon.
Realistically, the size of the car outweighs the potency of the 1.4 liter engine. The length of it also makes parking a challenge without a rear-view camera, which is to be expected on a car this size. Although the parking sensors help, this is another stinting of the small but crucial expenses of creating a modern vehicle. On the other hand, its Volkswagen power train, brakes, transmission and suspension make it sturdier than comparable European station wagons, a huge advantage of the Leon over its competitors. Additionally, thanks to the 7 speed gearbox, the drive can still compete with a Leon, dynamic but a dash safer, albeit with a slight turbo-lag. In terms of safety technology, 6 airbags, ISOFIX, electronic stability system, and pre-collision braking add up to keep all 5 passengers as snug as possible in this sporty-morphed-family-car. Economically, the Leon ST is outstanding for its segment. Without being too heavy-footed on the gas, an average of 18.3 km/l is easily achievable.
The fabric seats are elegant and comfortable, the plastics edging the dash and the doors are good quality. In creating the ST, nothing is lost on the interior from the SEAT Leon. Interior Ambient LED Lights are an original touch, if a little unnecessary, and accent your journey in either white or red. Unfortunately, the infotainment system is a let-down, with an extremely small screen, and no navigation system – incredibly – the Leon is missing some key gadgets.
The more juvenile heads of the household will love the feeling of being inside of the SEAT ST as you can almost forget the sheermass of car behind you, and the mini passengers if you bought it for the family. The ST’s dashboard doesn’t project anything daring or dramatic up front, though the simplicity of the driver’s view is compensated in the back. Airplane-style lap tables and window shades on the rear windows are a nice touch, but all these practical additions do take away from the youth of the SEAT. Its panoramic roof is a stunning feature, nevertheless, it is smooth and rolls back half-way, or simply remains transparent framing the sky so you can appreciate the weather from a glass bubble, even when it’s fully closed. The trunk is also enormous; if you’re an off-road sports fan, 2 bikes, a scuba kit, and a wind board will fit no problem with the back seats flattened.
Starting at MX$323,100 it also isn’t a heady investment for the target buyers, and is reasonably priced for what it offers.
At a Glance
- Make: SEAT
- Model: León ST
- Engine: 1.4 Liters TSI
- Power: 140 HP
- MPG: 18.3 km/l
- Transmission: 7-speed
- 0-100 Km/h in 6.4 seconds
- Rear parking sensor
- Media System with 6 speakers and Onboard Computer
- Panoramic Roof
- Servotronic System
- Easy Backseat Release system
- Up to 1,470 liters storage space in trunk