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SEAT Leon ST Cupra big on pace and space

07:16 04 June 2015

When it comes to large loads, SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280 is a fast mover.

When it comes to large loads, SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280 is a fast mover.

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Add an extra length of boot to one of the best hot hatchbacks out there and you can’t really go wrong, says Matt Kimberley, of the Press Association.

What’s new?

Technically, the last 27cm at the back is what’s new, but the overall package is the first performance estate car that SEAT has ever built. The Leon ST Cupra 280 is based on the five-door hot hatch we already know and love, but the ST adds a handy 207 litres of extra boot space – a 65% boost.

There is a new media interface screen but unfortunately it’s part of an expensive options package. You can also choose to add the Sub-8 performance pack for lighter wheels and the option of having the car festooned with orange bits.

SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280

Price: Manual, £28,505; DSG automatic £29,860

Engine: 2.0-litre, 280PS, four-cylinder turbo petrol

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 6.2 seconds; top speed 155mph

MPG: 42.2 combined

C02 emissions: 157g/km

Looks and image

There’s just something special about a fast estate. It’s in the stance, perhaps, but the Leon ST Cupra 280 looks a peach on its lowered suspension, 19in wheels and subtle bodykit. The elongated back end helps re-alance the rear doors versus the hatchback, and if you choose the performance pack you get stunning thin-spoked wheels that save a whole chunk of weight and improve ride and handling.

Space and practicality

A total of 587 litres below the luggage cover is not to be sniffed at. Big suitcases, a washing machine – whatever – the ST can shift it... and quickly. And there are 13 storage spaces in the ST.

For everyday driving you might want to protect the alloy wheels, which are vulnerable. The seats are a rather lovely collection of materials, too, and you really would regret spilling anything on them – the white trim inserts will need cleaning pretty often regardless.

Behind the wheel

The ST is impressively similar to the hatchback to drive. With huge grip from wide Bridgestones – or Michelin Pilots with the performance pack – the special physics-defying technology on the front axle rewards you the harder you push through corners, dragging the front end around with astonishing traction.

You might notice the rear suspension is slightly firmer than in the hatchback but what you can’t fail to miss is the vast improvement that the pricey new 6.5in screen brings with it. Higher resolution and revised graphics link to the same computers and software as the standard low-res screen, but it looks a million times better.

It pulls effortlessly even with four people and their weekend luggage on board, it’s acceptably comfortable in the softest of its user-selectable suspension settings and the Alcantara seat trim grips you beautifully.

Value for money

It’s a straightforward £995 jump from the five-door to the ST, but there are new options to choose that can bump the price way up. The better screen you already know about, but the pricey panoramic sunroof is fantastic. The bucket seats are snug but expensive, too. To be honest you’re better off leaving the car standard.

Who would buy one?

Let’s face it, you could just buy a diesel Leon ST. But it won’t look as good and it won’t go as breathtakingly well. The ST Cupra, fuel costs excluded, has to be one of the finest all-round cars on the market. If you can afford to buy and run it, it’s a purchase you won’t regret.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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