Seat Leon ST is a European wagon that you can't have, Mr. America [w/video]

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There's nothing like the yearly reminder of the Frankfurt Motor Show to put our wagon jealousy into top gear. Be they from Alpina, Honda, Opel or Volkswagen; Europeans have access to long-roof rides that we only get to sample with a plane ticket and a Hertz Club Gold card.

The Seat Leon ST is simply the newest addition to that unfriendly basket of forbidden fruit. As we reported when the car's details went public some months ago, the Seat waggy offers a maximum load-lugging capacity of 51.9 cubic feet. It can be had with powerplants ranging from 1.2-liters up to 2.0-liters of displacement, with both gas and diesel options on the table. It can, of course, be had with the buyer's choice of a manual transmission or DSG dual-clutch setup, as well.

Oh, and it looks pretty rad, too, with angular lines and nice proportions. We're sharpening up our resumes and checking the international want ads as we write this... Find press release and video evidence of the Seat Leon ST below, and live images of it from Frankfurt above.
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Frankfurt / Martorell, 10/09/2013 – Impressive premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The new SEAT Leon ST demonstrates that thrilling sporting character and exceptional everyday usability do not have to be mutually exclusive. The third member of the Leon family combines the young, dynamic design and the precise handling of its siblings with an amazing degree of utility. Like every Leon, the ST displays an impressive level of craftsmanship and premium materials. The luggage space of the 4,535 mm compact estate car offers excellent variability and the very best functionality down to the last detail. It has a load capacity of 587 litres, rising to as much as 1,470 litres with the rear seat backrests folded – meaning that even the big items of everyday life are best accommodated in the Leon ST.

"Nobody has to choose anymore between sporty and practical. The new Leon ST offers both," says Jürgen Stackmann, President and CEO of SEAT S.A. "With its sporty look, its surprisingly high utility and its state-of-the-art technology, the Leon ST defines a new standard in the compact estate car class – at a very fair price. Like the already highly successful Leon and Leon SC, the new ST is the perfect representative of SEAT's brand values."

The design of the Leon ST continues the emotional SEAT design language, as well as its high level of quality in materials and workmanship. The line-up of state-of-the-art engines is extremely broad, with the power spectrum of TDI and TSI drives ranging from 63 kW (86 PS) to 135 kW (184 PS).

The exceptionally efficient New 1.6 TDI Ecomotive with 81 kW (110 PS) achieves fuel consumption of just 3.2 litres per 100 km in the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle), equating to a CO2 figure of only 85 grams per km.

The new estate from SEAT handles every bit as precisely and dynamically as the Leon and Leon SC. Beyond the Reference and Style equipment lines, the high-performance FR variant underscores the leading position it holds among sporty compact estate cars.

"The new LEON ST perfectly combines the SEAT DNA with functionality and versatility. The LEON ST comprises the same engine line-up and offers the same dynamic and fun to drive performance that is already behind the name LEON", says Dr. Matthias Rabe, SEAT Executive Vice President for Research and Development.

The extensive range of hi-tech options such as the full-LED headlamps is expanded by the ACC adaptive cruise control with proximity radar and DCC adaptive chassis control with variable damper adjustment. The optional progressive steering enables a high degree of control under sporty driving conditions.

The much applauded design language of the Leon range has been further accentuated for the ST. Here, too, sculpted lines along the sides deliver a thrilling interplay of light and shade. The estate also features the same sharp lines and precise edges that communicate energy and vitality. The new estate adds a whole new dimension to the Leon family – the dynamic silhouette looks taut and elegant, yet the Leon ST offers comprehensive utility for work and leisure, family and sport.

"In the development of the new Leon ST, we have fully retained the dynamic essence of SEAT design," says Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, Head of SEAT Design. "The roofline follows almost exactly the same line as the five-door; just stretched a little farther back. While the wheelbase remains the same, an extra 27 centimetres on the bodyshell allows the car to offer the luggage volume of a fully fledged estate car."

The side view of the new SEAT Leon ST displays harmonious yet exciting proportions. This includes a balanced relationship between metal (2/3) and glass surface (1/3). This clear division accentuates the solidity and underscores the refined stance of the elegant estate car. The slight taper of the side window surfaces towards the rear emphasises the feeling of spaciousness, which can be further enhanced by the optional panorama glass roof. The standard roof rail accentuates the gentle tension of the roofline.

The extra 27 centimetres added to the rear end provide some indication of the generous estate luggage space available within, while the low rear windscreen and muscular shoulders emphasise the car's dynamic character. With its even more expressive design front and rear, the FR variant of the Leon ST brings whole new meaning to the term sports estate.

Space and versatility
Despite its uniquely dynamic design, the new Leon ST is surprisingly spacious and exceptionally versatile. The load capacity stands at 587 litres in the standard configuration, rising to as much as 1,470 litres with the rear seat backrests folded. Furthermore, certain equipment variants can also accommodate extra-long loads by folding forward the passenger seat backrest, giving a maximum load length of 2.5 metres. The ST also offers a host of further functional equipment details that considerably enhance its everyday usability. The rear seat backrests, for instance, are very easy to fold forward from the boot. The Boot Pack includes a double load floor, that makes loading and unloading particularly easy, and comes with more features like the bag hooks for bringing order to the boot.

The Family Pack incorporates retractable sun shades for the rear doors and folding tables on the rear of the front-seat backrests.

Overall, the Leon ST weighs just 45 kilograms more than the comparable five-door model. A clear consequence of a systematic lightweight design leading also to extremely good fuel consumption figures. In the base version, the Leon ST has a kerb weight of just 1,233 kilograms, making it the lightest estate car in its class. If it is to offer optimum safety and the best possible comfort, a bodyshell has to be solid. An intelligent structure guarantees that the vehicle remains light and efficient. Solid and light – SEAT set itself this challenge, and equipped the new Leon ST with a state-of-the-art body-in-white.

In order to maintain optimum value-for-money, the decision was taken to forego cost-intensive materials like magnesium and carbon fibre – instead, many places feature high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels. These hot-formed hi-tech steels alone reduce the weight by 18 kilograms, while providing even greater stiffness to the occupant cell.

The body-in-white of the five-door variant of the Leon is lighter than the preceding model by no less than 25 kilograms. And for the new Leon ST, too, systematic lightweight design was implemented across all elements of the vehicle. Thus, a great many parts in the engines, chassis and interior also make a contribution to weight reduction.

Panoramic sunroof
The optional panoramic sunroof delivers a very bright and airy sense of space, especially for the back-seat passengers – and, with its large, black surface, provides an additional design element, particularly in combination with light-coloured paintwork. The front section of the glass roof can be retracted over the fixed rear section – and can also be opened and closed using the remote-control key.

The technology package for the new SEAT Leon ST is largely the same as that for the Leon and Leon SC. The fuel-efficient TDI and TSI engine with displacements ranging from 1.2 to 2.0 litres all work with direct injection and turbocharging and are engineered for rapid warm-up and low internal friction.

The choice of petrol engines is extremely broad. The 1.2 TSI comes in two versions with 63 kW (86 PS) and 77 kW (105 PS). In the first power variant, NEDC fuel consumption stands at 5.2 litres per 100 km, equating to 119 grams of CO2 per km. With start/stop and energy regeneration, the 77 kW engine consumes just 4.9 litres per 100 km (CO2: 114g/ km).

The 1.4 TSI with 90 kW (122 PS) is a state-of-the-art unit delivering 200 Nm of torque. The engine comes with start/stop and energy regeneration as standard and consumes just 5.3 litres of Super grade petrol per 100 kilometres in the NEDC, (CO2: 123 g/km). The TSI range is further enhanced by a 1.4 TSI with 103 kW (140 PS) and an average fuel consumption of 5.3 litres per 100 kilometres (CO2: 121 g/km).

The pinnacle of the petrol line-up is the FR with the 1.8 TSI delivering 132 kW (180 PS) and 250 Newton metres of torque. Paired with the fast-shifting DSG, it has a fuel consumption of just 5.7 litres per 100 km (CO2: 132 g/km).

The turbodiesel line-up offered in the new SEAT Leon ST covers a broad performance spectrum ranging from 66 kW (90 PS) to 135 kW (184 PS). The entry-level engine is the 1.6 TDI with 66 kW (90 PS) and a respectable 230 Nm of torque. It consumes 4.1 litres per 100 km and emits 108 grams of CO2 per km. In the version with 77 kW (105 PS), the 1.6 TDI produces 250 Nm of torque. With the start/stop and energy regeneration, it consumes just 3.8 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres in the NEDC (CO2: 99 g/km).

The 2.0 TDI with 110 kW (150 PS) and 320 Nm of torque provides the new SEAT Leon ST with ample propulsion; yet, with the start/stop and energy regeneration, it makes an average of just 4.1 litres of fuel per 100 km (CO2: 106 g/km). A sporty highlight is set by the 2.0 TDI with 135 kW (184 PS) and 380 Nm of torque, which is available exclusively in the new FR and sips just 4.3 litres of fuel per 100 km (CO2: 112 g/km).

When it comes to transferring power to the wheels, the transmissions on offer vary in accordance with the engine from a five or six-speed manual to the compact and lightweight DSG dual-clutch gearbox. It changes its six or seven gears in a matter of milliseconds and is incredibly efficient. Certain variants come with a freewheeling function, which reduces real-life fuel consumption even further.

The new 1.6 TDI Ecomotive
The Ecomotive variant of the new SEAT Leon ST is one of the most fuel-efficient cars of our time. With its average fuel consumption of just 3.2 litres per 100 kilometres and a similarly low CO2 figure of just 85 grams/km, the Leon ST Ecomotive is incredibly cost-effective to drive and has extremely low emissions. But, thanks to its brand new 1.6 TDI engine with 81 kW / 110 PS and a torque of 250 Newton metres, the Leon ST Ecomotive also offers a very dynamic drive, with its top speed standing at 197 km/h. Plus, its theoretical range of an impressive 1,500 kilometres reduces refuelling stops to an absolute minimum.

The 1.6-litre belongs to the latest generation of TDI engines, with features such as under-bonnet exhaust-gas treatment, innovative thermal management with separate cooling of engine block and cylinder head, and charge-air cooling integrated into the intake manifold. The internal friction of the entire engine has been further optimized – a key factor in the continued improvement of efficiency.

The start/stop system, energy regeneration, the specially adapted six-speed manual transmission and the extremely low rolling resistance tyres are major contributors to the low consumption figures. They are further enhanced by the optimised aerodynamics of the slightly lowered bodyshell with partially closed air intakes at the front, additional underbody cladding and a roof spoiler.

SEAT drive profile with DCC adaptive chassis control
The character of the FR version of the new SEAT Leon ST can be individualised to suit both mood and situation: The SEAT Drive Profile enables the driver to vary the characteristics of the power steering, throttle control and DSG transmission in three modes – eco, comfort and sport, plus an additional individual setting.

For the FR, SEAT also offers the latest generation of the DCC adaptive chassis control with three different modes that can be selected via the SEAT Drive Profile. In the "Sport" mode, the Leon ST is even more agile, while the set-up in "Comfort" mode is considerably more relaxed. The DCC system adaptively regulates the damper valves and thus the damping characteristics. The DCC also uses input signals from the wheel travel and acceleration sensors, as well as information from the vehicle CAN bus. This ensures that the correct damping force is calculated and adaptively applied in accordance with every driving situation. For the first time, the new-generation DCC can now vary the rebound and compression damping fully independently of one another during dynamic lateral manoeuvres, too – a major benefit in optimizing handling characteristics.

Alongside DCC, the optional Dynamic Pack for the Leon ST FR includes progressive steering. It reduces the steering effort during low-speed manoeuvres, while increasing handling dynamics with more direct steering characteristics on winding roads. Thanks to this steering, the driver is able to use smaller steering movements to achieve the desired cornering radii; this means that, on tight bends and hairpins, he has to adjust his grip less frequently. Steering lock is 2.1 turns (380°) with the progressive steering; with the standard steering, it is 2.75 (500°). Conventional steering systems apply a constant steering ratio. The new progressive steering operates with a progressive ratio. This noticeably reduces steering effort when parking or manoeuvring. Due to the more direct set-up, the driver will notice improved dynamics on winding country roads and when turning corners.

The main technical differences between the progressive and the standard steering are variable gearing on the steering rack and a more powerful electric motor.

The SEAT Drive Profile allows the driver to choose a driving style: normal, sport, eco or individual. Depending on the settings, the interior ambient lighting changes and the led lines in the door panels switch between white colour (normal, eco and individual) and red colour (sport).

In the Leon ST FR with the 1.8 TSI (180 PS) and 2.0 TDI (184 PS) it also influences the engine sound, which is modulated via a sound actuator.


A new feature in the driver assistance systems for the SEAT Leon is the ACC adaptive cruise control. The radar system maintains the pre-set speed and a minimum selected distance to the vehicle in front, braking or accelerating automatically in flowing traffic. The speed can be set within a range of 30 to 160 km/h. ACC works with both manual and DSG gearboxes. In vehicles with DSG, the system can brake all the way to a standstill behind a slowing vehicle.

The well balanced chassis reinforces the dynamic character of the new SEAT Leon ST. The suspension smoothes out all manner of uneven surfaces, while the steering has refined, calm directionality and an excellent level of feedback.
The compact estate car uses an all-new vehicle architecture that has been developed from scratch. Its engines are all angled at 12 degrees to the rear. This and the compact engine layout enabled engineers to move the front axle forward by 40 millimetres. The results are a comparatively long wheelbase and a well-balanced distribution of axle load - factors that have a major impact on comfort and sporty handling.

At the front are McPherson struts on a subframe. The Sport Tourer responds quickly and precisely to steering input, mastering all manner of bends and corners with relaxed stability. The ratio of the new speed-sensitive electromechanical power steering is sporty and direct. It makes a significant contribution to the efficiency of the new Leon ST because it consumes no energy during straight-line driving. The turning circle measures just 10.2 metres.

On engine versions up to 110 kW (150 PS), the rear end is equipped with a torsion bar suspension. The more powerful variants use a multi-link set-up that handles longitudinal and transverse forces independently from one another. Shock absorbers and coil springs are mounted separately to deliver a particularly refined response. An electronic transverse differential lock applies tiny braking impulses to the lighter inside front wheel to make handling at the cornering limits safer and even more fluid. The ESC electronic stability program has been perfectly adapted, while the braking system on the new SEAT Leon ST is also a match for even the toughest conditions.

Full-LED headlamps
Innovative full-LED headlights in combination with LED rear lights are available as options for the new SEAT Leon ST. Alongside their expressive design, LED headlamps have many further benefits – for instance, they illuminate the road with a colour temperature of 5,300 Kelvin. Because this is very similar to that of daylight, it puts very little strain on the eyes. In terms of efficiency, the LEDs consume very little energy; dipped beam, for instance, draws only 20 watts per unit.

The distinctive contour of the positioning and daytime running lights on the new SEAT Leon ST is generated by two white LEDs per unit. Nine yellow LEDs on each side provide the light for the indicators, which are likewise integrated into the headlamp unit. The dipped beam is made up of six modules each. When the main beam is switched on, three bright spot modules are activated in each unit and the dipped beam is raised accordingly.

Intelligent sensors prevent oncoming traffic from being dazzled. Furthermore, the new full-LED headlamps are completely maintenance free and designed to last the lifetime of the car.

The functions of the full-LED headlamps include a motorway light. The angle of the beam is raised slightly as soon as the Leon ST travels at a speed of above 110 km/h for more than 30 seconds. This improves illumination of the carriageway without irritating other road users.

The accentuated dynamics of the exterior continues seamlessly in the interior of the new SEAT Leon ST. The space for the driver and front seat passenger has a clear and well balanced layout. All switches, buttons and levers are where they would intuitively be expected to be. The broad centre console is a notable feature, with its clear orientation towards the driver. The instrument panel is extremely elegant and, due to its two-tone design, seems to float slightly in mid-air.

During the design of the SEAT Leon ST, a high priority was placed on functionality and flexibility. There are no fewer than a dozen stowage options and five closed cubbies in the doors and centre console, as well as in front of and between the front seats. The front stowage bin in the centre console is extremely spacious. Keys, mobile phones or other everyday items can be stored here quickly and safely.

State-of-the-art infotainment systems

When it comes to infotainment solutions, too, the new SEAT Leon ST is fully up to date.

The foundation for the very best on-board entertainment is the SEAT Easy Connect operating system, which enables the control of entertainment and communication functions, in addition to numerous vehicle functions, via a cockpit touchscreen. For the first time, SEAT is using in the Leon family a touch-sensitive screen with proximity sensor. As soon as the driver's or passenger's finger approaches the touchscreen, the system automatically switches from display to operating mode. In operating mode, the elements that can be activated via the touchscreen are brought to the fore, making intuitive use (smartphone-style swipe and zoom gestures) even easier. The display mode, on the other hand, is distinguished by its extremely clear and uncluttered presentation. The graphics of both modes are a perfect match for the sporty aesthetic of the SEAT design.

The optional SEAT sound system with 135-watt output and ten speakers (nine loud speakers and a subwoofer) offers clear and powerful sound at all five seats. A large proportion of this impressive listening experience is attributable to the centre speaker integrated into the dashboard and the large subwoofer in the luggage compartment.

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