Seat Leon X-Perience SE, motoring review: 'It was as though the Carpenters were in the back'

The X-Perience's stereo stuck in Sean O'Grady's memory

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Indy Lifestyle Online

PRICE: £29,880 (£31,685 as tested)
ENGINE CAPACITY: 2 litre diesel
POWER OUTPUT: 184@4,000
TOP SPEED: 139
FUEL ECONOMY: 57.6
CO2 EMISSIONS: 129

Strange to say, perhaps, the Seat Leon X-Perience isn't such a strange experience as might be expected from its unusual name. Stepping into the X-Perience might, for example, put you in mind of the X-Men and suggest that, once behind the wheel, you would assume some superhuman powers bestowed upon you, such as being able to reverse round corners or the ability to distinguish between road signs indicating, respectively, "traffic merges from the left" and "traffic merges from the main carriageway".

In fact, the Seat Leon X-Perience is fairly straightforward and not at all Wolverine-esque. It is a smart little estate, a sort of shrunken Audi Quattro tourer, with tasteful trim and VW Golf underpinnings. It is a little taller than a standard Seat Leon estate, to accommodate the four-wheel drive system and to add a little extra ground clearance for country lanes, which is where this Leon is supposed to be used. Despite the marginally higher centre of gravity, the four-wheel drive system does deliver an impressive amount of grip and a sporty sort of drive. The diesel-powered motor I tried was powerful and fast, and the sort-of-automatic DSG gearbox mostly worked well (not always with alacrity, surprisingly). So, a nice experience that, on the whole.

The bit of the X-Perience experience that does stick in the memory is the stereo, or whatever it is you're supposed to call this stuff nowadays. Listening to the Carpenters' Greatest Hits album, via an SD card, it was almost as though Karen and Richard were in the back, flares and all. You are going to hate me for this, as these songs will be stuck inside your mind for some time after I mention them, thus rendering you terminally distracted, but I have to say that "Yesterday Once More", "Please Mr Postman", and "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" never sounded better, not even on Alan "Fluff" Freeman's Radio 1 chart rundown on a Roberts radio or on warm original vinyl.

There we have it. The Seat Leon X-Perience. Not as futuristic as X-Men and maybe not as much fun as an X-Box. But it does have something of the X-factor about it, for its grip, sound system and interior. So, from Sean to Seat: XXX.

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