The SEAT Leon X-Perience joins the growing band of rugged, raised estates with off-road ability and greater pulling power.
If you’re looking for a grippy 4×4, but don’t want a big SUV, there’s more choice than ever. Now SEAT’s joining the party with a tougher version of its Leon ST load lugger.
The X-Perience’s raised ride height, protective skid plates front and rear, and roof rails, distinguish it from its sleek stablemates.
Hidden from view is the real reason why the X-Perience costs a few grand more than the ST – a fifth-generation Haldex four-wheel-drive system as fitted to the new Land Rover Discovery Sport no less.
SEAT aren’t claiming the X-Perience is a rival to more serious off-roaders, but all-wheel-drive and extra ground clearance does mean that it can cope better with slippery surfaces and rougher roads and tracks, while also putting it on the shopping list for caravanners.
SEAT’s ‘4Drive’, as it’s known, kicks in seamlessly as soon as it’s needed, giving the car excellent traction on everyday roads and it’s hard to fault when soft-roading too.
The Leon hatchback and standard estate are extremely rewarding cars to drive and the X-Perience is no exception. Despite the extra ride height, there seems to be no extra roll or pitching, while that extra grip is a bonus.
Under the bonnet in my test car was the more powerful of two 2.0 diesels, knocking out a useful 182bhp via a six-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
I suspect the smaller of the two (148bhp) would suit most people, because my diesel was more than punchy enough to cope with everyday driving.
The stats speak for themselves – it’s capable of reaching 62mph in 7.1 seconds and a top speed of 139mph whilst emitting just 129g/km of CO2. I couldn’t manage the claimed 57.6mpg, but I certainly got close to 50, which is good going.
Just like the ‘regular’ Leon ST, inside it’s comfortable and well equipped with a quality feel.
There’s also more space than you might think, front and rear, given the X-Perience’s svelte styling lines outside. The boot is an impressive 587 litres, expanding to a cavernous 1,470 litres with the rear seats folded – and all this can be achieved by just one pull of a lever in the luggage bay.
The list of standard equipment is as long as your arm , but it includes everything from dark tinted rear windows, to twin exhaust pipes, front sports seats, cruise control and rear parking sensors.
The SE Technology pack fitted to my test car included full LED headlights, front sports seats in alcantara, DSG steering wheel paddles, SEAT Drive profile with four different modes (ECO, Normal, Sport and Individual) and 18-inch alloy wheels, to name but a few.
Add to that the Lux Pack which includes black leather upholstery, electrically adjustable driver’s seat and electric panoramic sunroof and the basic £24,920 for an X-Perience inflates to £32,860.
So I guess if your heart is set on an X-Perience, set aside a few hours to go through the trim levels, packs and optional extras to come up with the best package for you.
So far, so good. Minor niggles include the usual low speed acceleration diesel grouch (ie the engine clatters away), but it soon settles down and the torque more than makes up for it.
Weirdly, the X-Perience’s most obvious rivals are within the Volkswagen Group in the shape of the Skoda Octavia Scout, Audi A4 Allroad and VW Golf Alltrack, though others are catching on so the Volvo V40 Cross Country and Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer (now deceased) are in with a shout too. Then there’s arguably the 4×4 estate that started it all – the Subaru Outback.
Frankly, there’s little to fault the SEAT Leon X-Perience – it’s an attractive, frugal, spacious, practical family car with more than a hint of go outdoors about it.
For me, choosing between the SEAT and the excellent Skoda Octavia Scout would be a tough decision.