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Motoring: It's a new experience from Seat

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Seat Leon X-perience

Seat Leon X-perience

VW's e-Golf

VW's e-Golf

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Seat Leon X-perience

Rural drivers and adventurous city folk who like the great outdoors will have a strong interest in the latest offering from the VW off-shoot, Seat. Noted for styling which is more edgy than the VW brand and that of its sibling, Skoda, the newcomer will, as the name suggests, be a new experience for Seat fans. Enter the Leon X-Perience, below right, which is an all-wheel-drive version of the Leon ST estate.

It has a higher stance, roof rack, bigger wheels and 27mm more ground clearance. The interesting bit is the all-wheel-drive differential lock which will direct traction to the wheels, or an individual wheel, depending on where it is most needed. To test this feature, Seat engineers created a mud and rocky test track which demonstrated that the X-Perience was well able to take the rough with the smooth.

Most drivers will never travel on such terrain but it is reassuring to know that even in the worst of weather conditions, the chances of getting home safely are greatly improved. So the worst of the winter weather should hold no fear.

There is an impressive level of kit included - Bluetooth, fog lamps, cruise control, climatic air conditioning, 5in colour touch screen , 17in alloy wheels, parking sensors, roof rails - to keep most drivers happy. The boot space is impressive, it expands from 508 litres to 1,476 litres with the rear seats folded. A good high driving position and supportive seats make driving comfortable but road noise can intrude into the cabin.

Under the bonnet there is the option of 150bhp or 184bhp diesel engine with prices starting at €32,490 and €35,495. The 150bhp unit comes with a six-speed manual transmission, with the 184bhp unit mated to a DSG automatic gearbox.

If there is to be a grumble about the X-Perience it is the price, which may be too rich for transport that is more of an option than necessity for Irish driving conditions.

The Leon ST, without the all-wheel-drive for less money, will be the choice for most punters.

Next year, a front-wheel-drive X-Perience with a more modest 1.4 TSI petrol engine and a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel 110bhp will be available for considerably less cash.

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