Rugged, four-wheel-drive estate adds extra utilitarian goodness to the Seat Leon's range, but there are better value alternatives out there

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Look past the silly grammar and the Seat Leon X-Perience makes lots of sense. The standard Leon ST wagon is great value, roomy, practical, decent to drive and cheap to run, so it's easy to see why somebody might want all those attributes teamed with four-wheel drive.

In the Seat Leon, a new, fifth-generation Haldex clutch sends drive entirely to the front wheels in steady-state use, but up to 50 percent of it is diverted to the rear axle when necessary.

The Leon X-Perience has moderately useful off-road ability, while the boot remains unaffected and still offers a healthy 587 litres of boot space

This, combined with a ride height raised by 15mm and a 28mm improvement in ground clearance, gives the X-Perience moderately useful off-road ability and a towing capacity of up to 2000kg (on the manual car). The boot remains unaffected and still offers a healthy 587 litres of space.

The Leon X-Perience comes in two trim levels, SE and SE Technology, and a choice of a 2.0 TDI in two outputs. The entry-level version is an SE 2.0 TDI 150 equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox. It is priced at £24,920 and produces 148bhp and 236lb ft.

Above that sits the SE Technology variant. Equipped with the same engine, it costs £26,905. The range-topper is a more powerful 2.0 TDI 184 – which produces 182bhp and 280lb ft – with dual-clutch DSG transmission. It costs £30,010.

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.

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For all that, emissions and economy are still very good, with both this manual-only, 148bhp version of the 2.0-litre diesel, and the auto-only, 181bhp range-topper achieving just 129g/km and 57.6mpg.

It doesn't feel much different to a standard Seat Leon ST to drive, and that's no bad thing. Sure, there's more body roll, but unless you're planning on doing competition slaloms in your family wagon, it's progressive enough not to be a problem.

Perhaps more noticeable are the pitch and dive along with a touch of body float over undulations, but even that's easily ignored.

The steering is perhaps lighter than some would want and never feels very communicative, but it weights up progressively and gives enough feedback to give you confidence in faster stuff while still making easy work of car park shenanigans.

Despite that softer suspension, the X-Perience's ride is actually a bit more unsettled than that of the standard car's. It's nothing you'd call uncomfortable, but it can be pretty jarring over heavy mid-corner ruts and it feels busy over high-frequency bumps and ripples.

Still, it settles enough to make this a relaxed motorway cruiser, and the engine helps give it good motorway legs. This familiar motor actually gets a touch more torque in this model over the 148bhp 2.0 TDI in the standard Seat Leon, and it serves up a hefty mid-range punch that makes fast, smooth driving really easy.

Given that this is a car that's undeniably non-sporting in its intentions, the 181bhp model is probably only worth the extra cash if you really want the automatic transmission.

Refinement has definitely suffered a little in the name of added ruggedness, both in terms of a bit more suspension noise and much more noticeable tyre roar on the motorway, the latter being the more bothersome at higher speeds. Engine and wind noise, meanwhile, are generally easily ignored.

The interior remains unchanged, so it is as practical as that of any Leon ST. It's unsurprisingly short of the outright roominess of a Skoda Octavia Estate, but will still cope with four people and lots of luggage with ease.

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It also gets loads of equipment even in SE, with rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, leather-trimmed sports seats and interior LED lighting the chief additions over the standard ST's SE trim. 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.

If you're after a spacious family estate that'll do dirt tracks, muddy yards and the odd damp grass slope with more aplomb than your average front-wheel drive wagon, this is well worth a look. Mind you, be sure that the standard front-wheel drive Seat Leon won't do the job, since it's more refined and quite a bit cheaper.

If you must have four-wheel drive, the Skoda Octavia Scout is usefully bigger and a bit cheaper kit-for-kit, making it the more common-sense choice if the Leon's sharp looks don't swing it for you. While the Volkwagen Golf Alltrack is the slightly more premium option for those keen on an off-road able estate.

Seat leon

Seat Leon X-Perience 2014-2018 First drives