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SEAT Leon X-PerienceL

One of the biggest advantages in sharing a platform with the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf is that it opens up a multitude of different possibilities that previously wouldn't have necessarily been available. And this latest Leon X-Perience is a perfect example, where the four-wheel-drive system that has been engineered for the Skoda Octavia Scout has been repurposed to create a go-anywhere lifestyle SEAT.
Featuring a fifth generation Haldex clutch arrangement, combined with XDS - an electronic differential traction control system - drive can be switched from 100 per cent at the front in normal road conditions to a 50:50 split when conditions become a whole lot more slippery. It combines the load-lugging estate body of the Leon ST with a pair of 2.0-litre TDI engines in either 148 or 181bhp state of tune.
Together with jacked up suspension, more rugged bumpers and side mouldings, and a smattering of aluminium trim, you've got this X-Perience model that sits at the top of the Leon line-up. The majority of buyers won't go anywhere more challenging than a muddy supermarket car park, and that's just fine as the Leon makes a great companion on the road, where the additional grip afforded by the standard four-wheel-drive system means it's even more surefooted than the standard car.
The raised ride height hasn't affected the superb agility through the bends that all Leons have, with taut body control and a pliant, comfortable and absorbent ride. The steering is precise, delivering decent feedback through the wheel, making it easy to place on fast back roads, while also being highly manoeuvrable around town. Thanks to low levels of both road and wind noise, it's the engine that you'll hear most, and that doesn't exactly make a racket, it's just more noticeable because everything else is so subdued.
The 148bhp unit delivers perky performance away from the lights, and thanks to six well-chosen gear ratios, with a smooth action up and done the gait, it's easy to make swift progress when you're in a press-on mood. The cabin of the interior of the X-Perience is shared with the rest of the Leon range and so it's all familiar high quality stuff, though our top-spec SE Technology car came with plush looking half leather and brown alcantara upholstery which gives the interior ambience a little extra individuality. Soft-touch mouldings and a sensible layout contrive to make the Leon a neat place to spend time in.
All of the controls are logically arranged, and the satellite navigation screen is neatly positioned right within your eye-line, though we wish it was a little quicker to initialise from start-up. It's easy to get a comfortable position thanks to plenty of adjustment, and the heavily bolstered chairs keep you firmly in place when cornering. Space for nick-nacks are well taken care of thanks to a handy tray ahead of the gear lever, an average sized glovebox, and decently sized door pockets.
Space for both head and legs is generously sized front and back, though a middle passenger in the back may complain because of the sizeable transmission tunnel. Thanks to clever packaging of the all-wheel-drive system, boot space isn't impacted like some rivals, and so there's still the same 587 litres of space with the seats up, and 1,470 litres with the chairs folded down as the regular Leon ST. Model tested SE Technology 2.0 TDI
Price £26,370
Made in Martorell, Spain
Configuration 5-door estate, 5-seats, four-wheel-drive
Drivetrain 1968cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbocharged diesel with stop-start
Transmission 6-speed manual
Power output 148bhp @ 3,500-4,000rpm
Maximum torque 251lb ft @ 1,750-3,000rpm
Top speed/0-62mph 129mph/8.7 secs
CO2 emissions (tax band) 129g/km (D) Euro 6
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 47.9/64.2/57.6mpg
Fuel tank size/range 55 litres/697 miles
Insurance group/BIK rate 20/21%
Size (length/width with mirrors) 4,543/1,975mm
Boot space (minimum/maximum) 587/1,470 litres
Kerb/max towing weight 1,484/2,000kg

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