There is no doubt but we are in a new era for the estate car. Newcomers into sector this year alone indicate that there is a gradual move back to the ‘station wagon’. While these two terms – estate/station wagon are no longer used in the 21st century, they have been replaced with more modern technology such as Sports Wagon, Sports Tourer, Sports Porsche, etc. Toyota came along with the Auris Touring Sports while Honda is about to launch a Tourer version of the Civic soon. Another entrant into this compact family size car is Seat with its Leon Sports Tourer.
The Spanish brand is currently enjoying resurgence under the parentage of the Volkswagen Group. In the past 12 months alone, Seat achieved a 10.6% growth across Europe with 355,000 unit sales, to become the second best performer (next to Dacia) in this Continent. Closer to home, Seat Ireland recorded a 1.62% market share increase to almost 3% of the total market.
“The Leon family is now complete,” stated Cian O’Brien, Seat Ireland Director at the launch of the Leon Sports Tourer (ST) at the home of Munster Rugby, Thomond Park, Limerick. “Irish drivers no longer have to choose between sporty and practical. The new Leon Sports Tourer offers both, with its new sporty look, its high utility and its state-of-the-art technology, the Leon Sports Tourer defines a new standard in the compact estate car class at an exceptional price. Like the already highly successful Leon and Leon SC, the new Sports Tourer is the perfect representative of SEAT’s brand values.”
Other new models to come this year is the Leon Cupra with either 265 or 280 bhp while the Leon X-perience will see the brand have an all-wheel drive option. Then in 2015, expect to see a compact SUV. A commercial version of the Leon hatch as a Car-Derived Van is also being considered.
Seat Ireland has linked up with Munster Rugby as corporate sponsors to the team and has already made a big impact with various player linked activities throughout the region in association with local dealers. Mentioning dealers, Seat Ireland has signed up five new Sales and Service outlets with more to follow.
While competing with other value offerings from within the Volkswagen Group, the Leon Sports Tourer is a compact estate that will appeal to a customer be it private or fleet with its dynamic design and similar precise handling of its siblings within the Leon family.
Everyday usability from the backend is through a wide opening rear door that can offer luggage space of 587 litres, rising to as much as 1,470 litres with the rear seats folded. Interestingly, the Leon ST has a kerb weight of just 1,233 kilogrammes, making it the lightest estate car in its class but still offering optimum safety and the best possible comfort.
Through the VW Group, the drivetrain consists of a selection of 1.2 TSI (from 86 to 105 bhp) to 1.8 TSI (180 bhp) petrols to 90/105 bhp 1.6 TDI diesels. Above that is the 2.0 TDI with either 150 or 184 bhp. Prices start at €20,185 for the entry ‘S’ from level with the 1.2 TSI engine. Above that is the SE with the FR topping the bill. SE comes with 16-inch alloys, front fogs with cornering light function, cruise control; touch screen media system and connections. The best seller is likely to be the mid-range 1.6 TDI SE (90 bhp) costing €23,720. By the way, the flagship model here is the Leon ST 2.0 TDI FR (150bhp) with the DSG Autobox. As an added attraction customers can get an even higher specification if they buy before the end of January for both the SE and FE grades. On the Mayo-Limerick return journey for the launch in the ST, we were impressed with its styling and practicality plus of course its excellent handling and fuel economy en route.