SEAT Leon X-Perience

What is it?

Well, it’s a SEAT Leon estate that’s been given four-wheel drive, a bit of a lift and plastic extensions on the arches.  Admittedly, that doesn’t sound like much when you say it quick, but it makes the X-Perience quite a practical vehicle if you need 4x4-ability every now and again.  Granted, from the outside it bears a quite resemblance to Skoda’s Octavia Scout, though more angular and less curvaceous, and using the same VW Group MQB platform they’re pretty much identical underneath.

On the road

After driving just under a thousand miles in a week that included a 7 hour round trip to Burghley Horse Trials, Wales, NEC in Birmingham and the usual commute with the odd green lane thrown in for good measure, the X-Perience handled everything in its stride.

Admittedly, I haven’t driven the standard estate, so I can’t compare, but compared to other vehicles of the same ilk, the ride was good.  I found that the extra height was pretty much unnoticeable, but then at 15mm, that’s smaller than the diameter of a 5 pence piece.  From city driving, motorways and country lanes, it was fun yet comfortable.

Around car park the steering feels light and easy and becomes progressively heavier the faster you go. I’m not going to say that you get a lot of feedback from it, but it does offer the driver confidence on faster roads.

Off-road

In a word, competent.  Obviously it’s no off-roader, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the odd stretch of green lane.  The X-Perience shares the clever fifth-generation Haldex clutch system with the Skoda Octavia Scout, which means that for the majority of the time, the car runs in two-wheel drive mode.  If however it detects a slippery surface, then the 4Drive system will give 50 per cent of the power to the rear axle.  The traction control system then works out which wheel needs the power to boost grip.  Balancing the E-xperience on tow and 3 wheels the 4Drive worked seamlessly and allowed us to carry on exploring.

I was surprised that the ride wasn’t as smooth over cobbles, but then it was far comfier than the Volvo XC90 I had the week previous.  I suppose the X-Perience’s natural environment will be tarmac and the occasional muddy field, so it’s no surprise there’s some bias.

Interior

Unlike its VW and Skoda siblings, I found the front seats a bit narrow and short in the base, this doesn’t mean they’re uncomfortable, but I did find myself sat on the sides.

Chucking in a load of camping and cooking gear, the X-Perience swallowed it up nicely with room to spare, and with 4 adults aboard it was almost the perfect family barge.

The SE comes with a fair bit of equipment with rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, leather-trimmed sports seats and interior LED lighting.  Upgrade to SE Tech and your X-Perience will include 18in alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, front parking sensors, auto wipers and lights, an Alcantara upholstery and Seat's 6.5in touchscreen infotainment system complete with DAB radio and sat nav.

Engines,transmissions Specs ’n’ prices

So there’s the choice of two 2.0-litre diesels, with either 148bhp or 181bhp, and a choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic gearbox.

The Leon X-Perience comes in two trim levels, SE and SE Technology.  The entry-level version is the SE 2ltr and equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox and priced at £24,385 -  it produces 148bhp and 236lb ft.

Above that sits the SE Technology variant and has the same engine, it costs £26,370.  The range-topper is the more powerful 2ltr, 181bhp version with dual-clutch DSG transmission. It costs £28,870.

Both engine variants offer identical fuel consumption and CO2 emissions at a claimed 57.6mpg (combined) and 129g/km.  The four-wheel-drive system and beefed-up bodywork adds more than 120kg to the kerb weight.  For all that, emissions and economy are still very good, with both the manual 148bhp and auto 181bhp range-topper achieving just 129g/km and 57.6mpg.

Conclusion

Overall, the Leon X-Perience was a genuinely nice car to spend a week with.  There are a few things I wasn’t keen on, but that’s purely down to my tastes and therefore don’t detract from the X-Perience’s experience.

If you're after a spacious family estate that'll take you along dirt tracks, wet fields and snow, then it’s well worth a look.