Monday 24 October 2016

Are you ready for a new estate of X-Perience?

Seat's latest car is a four-wheel drive version of its stylish Leon Estate writes Geraldine Herbert

Published 26/04/2015 | 02:30

This pumped-up, beefier off-road version of Seat's load-lugger is the latest addition to the Leon range, the X-Perience. It is aimed at buyers who need space and off-road ability, but don't want to compromise on running costs. The X-Perience adds four-wheel drive and subtle body cladding to the regular Leon estate, including rugged black cladding while roof rails complete the pseudo-SUV look.

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Inside it is virtually identical to the rest of the Leon range, uncluttered with good quality materials; Seat interiors have proven hard-wearing, but a little on the dull side. There's plenty of space at the back with decent rear passenger legroom and a boot that can carry 587 litres.

On the road the Leon has always been a good car to drive - and the X-Perience model doesn't diverge from a trusted formula. Armed with 380Nm of torque, overtaking is smooth -and even when cornering the increased ride height is imperceptible.

Unlike the standard Leon hatchback and estate models, which feature a wide engine choice, the Scout only offers the 2.0-litre TDI diesel unit, but with either 150 or 184bhp. The 150bhp version is available with a six-speed manual gearbox while the tested, higher-power model comes with the VW Group's six-speed DSG automatic gearbox. It is a very punchy engine and feels faster than the 184bhp would suggest, it goes to 100 in seven seconds and fuel consumption is an impressive 4.9-litres per 100 or 57.6 mpg. CO emissions are just 129g/km.

The all-wheel drive system utilises a fifth-generation Haldex clutch that ensures optimal driving dynamics and low fuel consumption. Under normal conditions it operates by transmitting most of the engine power to the front wheels. Should their traction decrease, the power is diverted smoothly to the rear. For use on rough terrain, there is more ground clearance and the X-Perience stands 15cm higher than the regular Leon.

Prices for the two-litre TDi with 150hp in the manual four-wheel drive start at €32,495 and the 184hp in our DSG four-wheel drive at €35,495. Seat says a more affordable 1.6-litre is on the way in time for 152 registration that will be priced under €30,000. Interestingly the mechanically identical Skoda Octavia Scout costs €33,795, nearly €1,500 more that the Seat. Other rivals include Volvo's V40 Cross Country, which starts at €29,195 for the front-wheel-drive version only, and Opel's Insignia Country Tourer with a entry-level price of €39,295.

Four-wheel-drive estates with high ground clearance and affordable running costs may be the perfect solution for many families, particularly those with young kids who love the great outdoors. With stylish good looks, affordable running costs and space the X-Perience is designed to meet to the demands of family life.

But it is worth remembering if you don't need the extra functionality - and, let's be honest, many people don't need a 4x4 - you may be just as well served with the regular Leon estate and an extra €3,500 in your pocket.

Sunday Independent

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