The new SEAT Leon Sportstourer PHEV on test for Changing Lanes
The new SEAT Leon Sportstourer PHEV on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the SEAT Leon Sportstourer plug-in hybrid!

SEAT has used the launch of the latest generation Leon as an opportunity to bring the brand’s first plug-in hybrid model to the Irish market. Combining a petrol engine, battery and electric motor, the new Leon e-Hybrid range is a nod to the future of motoring, a starting point for the electrification of the SEAT brand.

Hybrid power for the Leon

Available as a hatchback or a Sportstourer estate, the new SEAT Leon e-Hybrid can be plugged in and charged, allowing owners to drive on electric power for up to 60 km. This is designed for drivers who do short commutes or spend a lot of time driving in town and can really make the most of the pure electric range and zero tailpipe emissions that go with it. Yet the back up of the combustion engine is always there.

The e-Hybrid range kicks off from €33,615 in Ireland for the hatchback and from €35,065 for the Leon e-Hybrid Sportstourer tested here for Changing Lanes.

The fourth generation Leon has been designed, developed and produced in Barcelona, at the company’s headquarters in Martorell. It turns out to be a very handsome car on approach for the first time. The Leon Sportstourer is arguably even better looking than the new generation Leon hatchback. Longer proportions give elegance and sportiness to this car. In sporty FR trim and finished in Mystery Blue, it has real presence.

Leon Sportstourer PHEV on sale from €35,065
Leon Sportstourer PHEV on sale from €35,065

Inside the SEAT Leon Sportstourer

The interior of the new SEAT Leon Sportstourer has been designed to be sleek and minimalist. Decorative mouldings surround the dashboard and continue through the front doors. A digital instrument cluster and 10″ infotainment screen take centre stage with functionality including natural voice control as well as gesture recognition to simplify user interaction. It also gives information about the e-Hybrid system including what mode the vehicle is running and battery state of charge.

Equipment levels are good with e-Hybrid models, coming in high spec Xcellence and FR trims only. Highlights of the FR model on test include 18″ machined alloy wheels, keyless engine start, rear view camera, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beam.

The Leon Sportstourer proves itself to be a comfortable family car with seating for five and the added practicality of an estate-style boot. While the hybrid packaging does impact boot volume in the Leon e-Hybrid models given that the battery pack is located under the boot floor, the Sportstourer accommodates it better with 470 litres available compared to just 270 litres in the Leon e-Hybrid hatchback.

Inside the SEAT Leon Sportstourer

Driving the SEAT Leon Sportstourer PHEV

The new Leon plug-in hybrid uses a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine, electric motor and 13kWh lithium-ion battery pack to produce a healthy 204 hp and 350 Nm of torque. Power is put to the road through a 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The e-Hybrid system requires more space than a traditional combustion engine but it’s been packaged to maximise dynamics so the chassis isn’t forced to compensate, with weight balanced between the front and rear of the vehicle.

On the road the new SEAT Leon Sportstourer feels quick and sophisticated. The hybrid powertrain suits it remarkably well adding a premium feel to the driving experience. Power delivery is strong and linear while the automatic gearbox never misses a beat. The car handles the road confidently and is comfortable too. My average fuel consumption was a remarkably efficient 5.4 litre per 100 km without any charging. Motor tax is €140 per year.

The Leon e-Hybrid can switch instantly between the different driving modes – whether powered solely by the combustion engine, a mixture of both combustion and electric energy, or only by electricity. The plug-in hybrid version provides an all-electric range of up to 60 km (WLTP) using the energy stored in the vehicle’s battery, for increased efficiency, or to travel around city streets.

The driver can choose to maintain the battery’s state of charge, saving it for situations when zero emission driving is ideal. When the battery is running low, the powertrain switches back to hybrid mode. Once you’re near a power source, the battery can be plugged in and replenished in 3-4 hours using a 3.6 kW wallbox charger.

The Leon e-Hybrid can be charged and driven on electric power around town
The Leon e-Hybrid can be charged and driven on electric power around town.

Did you like it?

The SEAT Leon has always been a core pillar in the brand’s product range, with more than 2.3 million sales since its introduction in 1999. The fourth-generation SEAT Leon hits the market perfectly with modern design and technology, as well as the addition of a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the very first time.

Turns out to be remarkably successful in the Leon. The Sportstourer e-Hybrid makes a very appealing prospect. It’s not just gorgeous to look at, but the estate-style design makes up well for the loss in boot volume that comes with the hybrid models.

Buyers will pay a premium in the Leon range for the hybrid models but these are high spec models and a good introduction to electrified motoring. Equipment levels are very good and the Leon e-Hybrid can be a truly efficient vehicle to run.

What’s more it feels good on the road, sophisticated and premium, and one you will enjoy driving.

Plug-in hybrid suits the Leon Sportstourer very well
Plug-in hybrid suits the Leon Sportstourer very well

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: SEAT Leon Sportstourer PHEV FR
1.4-litre turbo petrol
Power:  204 hp
Torque: 350 Nm
Top speed: 220 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7.7 seconds
CO2 emissions:
26-28 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year