A week after driving the massive Ford Mondeo Estate, I moved on to another Estate, the smaller but classy-looking Seat Leon X-Perience. My test model came in a lovely shade of brown and with two roof rails it certainly looked the part.
Seat has benefitted hugely from being part of the VW group and it now has a huge production and research headquarters in Martorell, near Barcelona where production is now at 100 per cent. At Martorell, some of the latest technologies in use for other brands in the group like VW and Audi can be availed of. Nowadays when a customer buys a new Seat they know that they are getting cars with a huge VW influence.
The Leon X-Perience is Seat’s first 4×4 car and it’s based on the ST Estate. It was launched at the Brooklodge Hotel in County Wicklow earlier this year where drivers were able to test it on the hilly countryside around Brooklodge.
This is new territory for Seat and now for the first time if you buy a Seat Ibiza and stay with the brand and work your way up. Next year Seat will introduce its first-ever SUV.
Although the X-Perience is based on the estate version of the ST, there are subtle changes. There are new front and rear bumpers and new 17-inch alloys and a bit more ground clearance than the ST. The steering wheel is slightly larger and the interior is very well finished with orange-stitching on the two-tone seats. A full-length sun roof, with retractable screen over your head, makes the interior brighter and classier looking.
The radio controls are very clear and well marked and you will know straight away that you are driving a Seat. There is ample room for five well-built adults and you get an old-style handbrake, which is always comforting. Naturally the boot is massive and you get a ‘mini’ spare wheel.
It’s a very comfortable motor to drive and has a really spacious feel to it. The car performed very well in the off-road track in the Wicklow mountains and on the motorways for me last week.
Prices start at €32,495 for the 2.0-litre, while the DSG four-wheel drive version I drove will cost you €35,495. A more affordable 1.6-litre version will be available in time for the 152 registrations next month and it’s expected to be priced under 30K.
Like most car manufacturers Seat is big into PCP and you can get the 2.0-litre for €339 per month. Finance is available from its own VW bank.
It’s a powerful motor and has a towing capacity of up to 2,000kg. A tow bar can be installed for €560 plus VAT and Seat advises owners not to use non-Seat extras, as they can interfere with the technology of the car.
Seat says the average age of its Leon driver is a 46-year-old male. But Neil Phillips, Brand Director for Seat Ireland says perceptions are changing. Niall is confident that the X-Perience will attract many more new customers to the brand.
Some car companies seem to concentrate mainly on sales and marketing and neglect the service offers. Now Seat is bucking the trend and paying much more attention to after sales. It has introduced fixed service charges; €245 for a full service and €129 for a mini service and has other reward schemes to ensure you service your car at regular intervals.