Seat offers up more family space
Road test: Seat Leon ST - “It may be vanilla, but it’s vanilla with a little Spanish zest”
Seat’s new Leon ST estate
Seat’s new Leon ST estate - smart interior and build quality
Seat’s new Leon ST estate
Date Reviewed: January 14, 2014
Space, as Douglas Adams was wont to remind us, is big. Vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big. It indeed makes that walk to the chemist’s, which you consider big, to feel like mere peanuts. Space is also big in another sense. It’s big (as in, important) if you’re a family car buyer because bigness is what makes a car function the way you want it to. Bigness of boot space and of rear seat room in particular. Of course, big can also be bad. Big fuel bills are a big no-no, as would be a big motor tax demand. And big repair or servicing bills? Nope, forget that.
So finding a car that slots neatly into that small, perfect space between different versions of big is something of, well, a big deal. That is what makes this new Seat Leon ST (ST being estate in Spanish, apparently) something of a find. Estates are finally starting to burrow their way into the collective conscious of Irish car buyers as we realise that (A) they’re not just for brewery reps any more and (B) the running costs on that SUV are looking a bit steep but we still want something with a big boot.
The Leon ST certainly has that covered, with a seats-up boot capacity of 587-litres. That’s pretty enormous, and it’s a figure that comes with two significant benefits. First, it doesn’t mean a back end that looks as if someone has stapled a steamer trunk to the front of a passing hatchback - the Leon ST looks slick and sleek from pretty much any angle (other than the one from which you notice the massive rear overhang) and there’s an argument to made in favour of the ST being the best looking of the three Leon variants. Secondly, Seat has somehow cunningly managed to have that much boot and still squeeze in a full-size spare wheel. That’s an important consideration given that peculiarly Irish talent of turning tarmac into potholes and one that will help keep Leon ST owners mobile when others are stuck at the roadside realising that sealant and an air compressor aren’t much use when you’ve banjaxed the rims of two alloys.
So, you can fill the boot with all of the chattels your children need to haul around with them (and as any parent will tell you, that’s an aircraft hanger’s worth) and still find decent space in the rear seats for boosters and the like. In fact, there’s just about enough width in that rear seat to squeeze three child car seats in abreast, if you squeeze and squash a little.
In the front the sense of bigness extends to the quality. The steering wheel, a sporty three-spoke affair feels really nice to hold (its leather wrapped on our SE test car, the spec Seat Ireland reckons will be the big seller) and the rest of the dash looks and feels exceptionally nice. Any doubts you may have about Seat build quality can be dispelled by the fact that the firm’s Martorell factory near Barcelona is considered good enough to build the Q3 SUV for Audi. Seat’s cabin quality isn’t quite up to that level, but it’s good enough by most other standards, and lifted by the optional addition of leather and alcantara seats.