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On-test: Seat's X-Perience AWD - Silly name, sensible choice

Essentially a more rugged and jacked up version of Seat’s Leon ST, the X-Perience is hot on the heels of the Spanish firm’s recently launched Ateca mid-sized SUV.

 

Geoff Ashcroft finds out if it really is an experience.

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Leon X-Perience brings more ground clearance and mild off-road capability.
Leon X-Perience brings more ground clearance and mild off-road capability.

Seat’s presence in the 4x4 sector is gathering pace. And hot on the heels of the Ateca mid-sized SUV is the Leon X-Perience – a jacked-up estate car offering a half-way house for those who want space and ground clearance, without jumping into a 4x4-proper.

 

Get past the silly name, and the Leon X-Perience soon reveals itself as an impressive bit of VW Group architecture. Think of it as a Spanish version of the Audi A4 Allroad. It is, in fact, a rugged version of the latest model Leon ST.

It competes with the likes of Skoda’s Octavia Scout, and VW’s Golf Alltrack, plus upmarket rivals such as the Volvo V60 Cross Country and the Audi Allroad.

 

So how much of an experience is the X-Perience?

 

You do get Seat’s latest 4Drive, which sees power to all four wheels being managed by a Haldex coupling. Power is shuffled around according to which wheel offers the most grip, and on dry roads, the X-Perience is mostly front-wheel driven.

 

There is no dedicated off-road mode or hill descent function, so you do need to be aware of the car’s limitations. Good ground clearance helps here, and the extra 15mm from raised suspension is a useful boost.

Load space is practical, and a removable boot floor reveals deeper storage.
Load space is practical, and a removable boot floor reveals deeper storage.

This is not a car that you would want to push to the limit when you stray from the road, but it can cope with farm tracks and is an easy way to cross fields when conditions allow. Usefully, 4Drive provides solid traction in wet, muddy and wintery conditions.

 

The car’s exterior gets chunky plastic cladding which adorns wheel arches, sills and wraps around the four corners of the car. This mild protection from the countryside and its scenery could be useful should your off-road confidence overtake the car’s capabilities.

 

There are two trim levels; SE Technology and SE Lux. The former gets a 150hp diesel engine with a six-speed manual transmission, while the latter gets 184hp combined with a six-speed automatic. And it was the more powerful model which we put to the test.

The interior boasts style and comfort.
The interior boasts style and comfort.

Its DSG transmission is a good match to the 184hp, two-litre diesel, effortlessly shoving the X-Perience down the road on a wave of torque. It neither excites nor disappoints.

 

While there is some body roll from the ‘leggy’ suspension, the car does respond with plenty of grip.

Touchscreen tech offers lots of useful driving information in addition to navigation, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay connectivity. But swapping between screens could be easier if short cut buttons were fitted.

 

This said, there is a lot of standard specification, and the SE Lux driver really wants for little else. And that is encouraging given its £32,000 starting price.

 

Overall, it is a good all-rounder for those seeking some extra ground clearance with a lot of practicality.

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