Pros: style, efficiency, range of options, value
Cons: loss of boot space in hybrid
Hot on the heels of the new, fourth-generation SEAT Leon hatchback’s arrival in Ireland is the practical estate version, called the Sportswagon. Like the five-door model, it’s offered in a wide range of trim levels and with a decent selection of engines, too. Along with the expected diesel and petrol options, there’s also a new plug-in hybrid variant for the first time, called the eHybrid.
SEAT Leon Sportswagon Design
Up front, the Leon Sportswagon looks no different to its hatchback sibling, which is to say it’s an attractive looking car with a hint of sportiness. That’s emphasised in the FR model tested here. The estate gets subtle roof rails, an elongated roof and a noticeably longer rear overhang, so its stance isn’t quite as attractive as that of the hatch, but it retains the distinctive LED lights at the back, along with the stylised “Leon” script in the middle. As compact estates go, it’s a looker.
SEAT Leon Sportswagon Interior
The theme continues inside, where the latest Volkswagen Group components are used to good effect. That means digitally rendered instruments in front of the driver, with a few different layouts to choose from, a high-mounted touchscreen system used for most things and a general feeling of solidity and quality throughout. That infotainment display does take a bit longer to boot up than you might expect, but the sliders at its base for volume and cabin temperature help speed things up.
There’s comfortable seating for four adults in the Leon estate, though the centre rear seat is compromised by the transmission tunnel. Nonetheless, the rear seats are not affected by the hybrid components underneath, though the boot space is. At 470 litres, it’s about 150 litres less spacious than the non-hybrid Leon estates. That sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t look all that small, and it’s still usefully larger than the hatchback’s boot.
SEAT Leon Sportswagon Performance & Drive
The eHybrid system uses a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine, an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. The latter can be charged up through regenerative braking on the move, using the engine output when needs be and, most efficiently, by plugging the car into an external charger. Officially, this model can do nearly 60 kilometres without calling on its petrol engine if the battery is fully charged. In fact, it does a rather good impersonation of an electric car, as, battery charge allowing, it defaults to zero-emissions driving.
On the other hand, when the engine and motor work together for maximum performance, there’s 204hp on tap, allowing this family estate car to live up to the sporty SEAT image. It is undoubtedly quick enough, though the suspension has been set up for everyday driving, so don’t expect this to be a hot hatch with a big boot.
SEAT Leon Sportswagon Pricing
The Sportswagon costs between €1,000 and €1,700 more than the equivalent Leon hatchback and starts at €28,085 on-the-road for the SE model powered by a 115hp 2.0 TDI engine. The eHybrid is available in the upper trim levels, called Xcellence and FR, and starts at €32,825 including SEAI grant. It’s cheaper to buy than the automatic petrol or diesel models with the same specification, yet has more power, so it’s well worth a closer look. All versions of the Leon are generously equipped.
Carzone Verdict: 4/5
The plug-in hybrid version of the Leon estate could become the default option in the range for most buyers. Obviously, there are cheaper models in the line-up, but if you’re buying a mid-range version anyway, it makes a lot of sense. It looks good, it mixes efficiency, low running costs and impressive performance together well and it’s usefully more spacious than the hatchback. What’s not to like?