SEAT Leon ST (2014 – 2020) Review

SEAT Leon ST (2014 – 2020) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The SEAT Leon ST proves you can have practicality, a well-equipped interior and handsome styling without paying premium prices.

+A very stylish estate car, standard equipment is generous beyond the basic S version, compact size yet plenty of space for passengers and luggage.

-Ride on models with larger 18-inch wheels can be harsh, SEAT badge is less appealing than rival Volkswagen, boot slightly smaller than some estates in the same class.

Insurance Groups are between 12–26
On average it achieves 83% of the official MPG figure

The SEAT Leon ST is the Volkswagen Golf Estate’s Spanish cousin, offering an affordable blend of space and style when sold new between 2014 and 2020. It makes a compelling argument for those not wanting to add another SUV to the roads, but a large boot means there are no compromises when it comes to practicality. The Leon ST is also enjoyable to drive, while standard equipment is impressive across most of the model range. Compared with the Volkswagen, only the less prestigious SEAT badge is likely to deter potential buyers.

Although the world may seem to have gone mad for SUVs, traditional estate cars like the SEAT Leon ST offer a more efficient alternative. Add a combination of stylish looks and good value for money, and the Spanish wagon is worth a look.

Launched in 2014, the ST shares much with the regular hatchback version of the SEAT Leon. That means a wide choice of engines, plus a generous level of standard equipment once you venture beyond the thrifty entry-level versions. SEAT has done enough to make the ST stand out from the hatch. In other words, it looks like more than just a regular Leon with a bigger boot grafted on. 

However, the boot does give a notable increase in space over the Leon hatchback. With the back seats in place, the Leon ST has a 200-litre advantage over the regular Leon. Dropping the rear seats swells total space to 1470 litres, meaning it can accommodate the most optimistic of flat-pack furniture purchases.

Space for passengers inside the Leon ST is generous, with enough space to carry four adults on long trips. Adding an extra person to the centre seat in the rear might produce complaints if they are more than child-sized, though. 

The rest of the Leon ST’s interior includes plenty of additional storage space for family detritus. Large door pockets, cupholders in the centre console and an armrest on all but the basic S models are just some of the features. A split-level boot floor can make loading items into the rear easier, along with the naturally lower boot lip versus an SUV.

Along with competing against the lure of SUVs, the SEAT Leon ST also has a number of direct competitors. The mechanically similar Volkswagen Golf Estate comes closest, but demands a higher price for its more upmarket badge. Skoda’s Octavia estate delivers a bigger boot, but does so with more utilitarian styling. 

While it may not have the largest boot in its class, the Leon ST occupies a relatively compact footprint. City driving should not be an issue with this estate, although the ST will always feel more at home out on the open road. Eating up the miles on long motorway journeys suits the Leon ST, although it can still entertain when the roads get twistier. 

SEAT sells the Leon ST with a number of different engines. The 1.5-litre TSI petrol and 2.0 TDI diesel are the pick of the bunch, suiting the long-range cruising nature of the car. The diesels are also likely to be the preferred option for anyone looking to use their Leon ST for towing. 

Where the Leon ST truly delivers is when it comes to costs. Compared with an equivalent Volkswagen Golf, whether new or used, the SEAT will be cheaper to buy. Add in fuel-efficient engines and generous standard specification, and the Leon ST makes a strong case for itself. 

Buying a family estate does not need to break the bank, or mean a compromise on style, as the SEAT Leon ST proves.

Ask Honest John

Which estate cars offer the best fuel economy?

"What’s the most economical diesel, estate?"
Probably the SEAT Leon ST Estate. The 1.6 TDI 110 DSG returns almost 64mpg on the road: The old Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC returns 62mpg:
Answered by Dan Powell

Which petrol estate cars would you recommend for reliability, fuel economy and performance on a £12,000 budget?

"I want to buy a petrol estate car, manual, up to 5 years old on a budget of £12,000. I'm looking for something reliable and economic, but also fun to drive. The current short list is a 2012 - 2013 Ford Focus ST Estate 2.0 petrol, a 2014 SEAT Leon ST Estate 1.4 TSI 138, a 2015 Peugeot 308 SW estate 1.2 130 and a 2014 Honda Civic Tourer 1.8. Which cars would you recommend?"
Nothing wrong with the Honda Civic 1.8 i-VTEC Tourer apart from looks, and the strongest engine here. Should do more than 40mpg as well (I got 48). The 1.2 Puretech 130 in the Peugeot 308 is excellent. 230Nm makes is punchy up hills and I averaged 49mpg over 12,000 miles in one. No reports of any problems with this engine as yet. The 1.4 TSI in the SEAT Leon depends on whether it is chain or belt cam because the quality of the chains turned out to be variable and unpredictable. The Ford Focus ST has Ford's tough old chain cam 2.0 litre engine with a turbo good for 250PS (and good enough fore the Jaguar XE) but on the early ST models the behaviour of the electronic diff was so inconsistent we switched it off.
Answered by Honest John

Why is the ride on our Seat Leon FR so hard?

"We took delivery of a 2015 plate Leon Hatchback 150 TSI FR yesterday. Before buying it, we had test drives in the ST and hatchback in an identical spec except for the wheels, which were 18-inch on the hatch and 17s on the ST. We found the ride comfort on the ST was significantly better than the hatch; however, the dealer said the suspension on both vehicles was identical and the only difference was the wheels. We chose the hatch, but it was agreed to fit the 17-inch wheels from the ST - we expected the ride comfort to be improved by changing from the bigger wheels, but it is not noticeably any better. This has lead me to query the statements made that the suspension set up is identical. Do you know if the suspension is the same, and if it is, are there other differences that would make the ST more comfortable - or are we just imagining it?"
Two different types of suspension are fitted. The harder riding, cruder suspension is a simple twist-beam. But sportier models have fully independent rear suspension that offers much better ride quality, even with 18-inch wheels. It's possible that which models get the better suspension may have changed. Have a look underneath. The other thing to do is check the tyre pressures. Often cars do not go through a proper pre-delivery inspection and are delivered to customers on storage pressure tyres set at 40PSI. I run standard hatchbacks and small SUVs at 30PSI - 31PSI cold pressures to get the best comfort, quietness and steering feel. In use, the tyres heat up and the pressures rise by 2 - 4PSI.
Answered by Honest John

Nissan Qashqai or a regular estate?

"It seems everyone and their dog now drives an SUV From where I see it if one of those hits you in your average size family car you will come off worse. At the moment I am looking at petrol versions of the Nissan Qashqai or Leon ST, I am concerned about the former because it seems they are not very reliable and the latter for safety reasons. We are a family of 2 adults and two 8 year olds. I do 10k a year."
Big 4x4s aren't necessarily that safe. They might annihilate something they hit, but the occupants of the 4x4 still keep moving at the speed the thing was going and are not cushioned by 'crumple zones'. So the answer is to go for what you like driving. If you like to sit a bit higher and are prepared to sacrifice some degree of handling for that, up to you. If you prefer the handling of a lower car, go for one. Leons have two different types of rear suspension. The fully independent FR/Cupra set up rides and handles much better than the twist beam.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a SEAT Leon ST (2014 – 2020) cost?