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SEAT ups stakes with Leon estate 

THREE of a kind always beats a pair and as card players will tell you it even beats two pair in most poker games.

So it’s not difficult to understand SEAT’s reckoning when it decided to up the ante by adding a third model to its popular Leon pack.

I had a review in the News last August on the impressive five-door hatchback and three-door SC Leons and can now add that a five-door ST estate is a worthy member of the family.

The latest arrival has all the advantages of a compact estate with its extra loading space, yet it retains the sporty look of its two siblings.

The ST’s rear end has been extended by 27cm but at first glance you might not even think it is an estate model with its fine lines.

Take a closer look, lift the tailgate and you will find it has a fairly generous load space of 587 litres, extending to 1,470 litres with the rear seats folded flat, easily done with quick release handles in the loading area.

All three Leons share the same wide choice of petrol and diesel engines ranging from 1.2 to 2 litres.

My test car was a stunning top-of-the-range FR 2.0 TDI 184PS.

I had already sampled this engine in an SC FR that impressed myself and fellow members of the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers so much that it lifted the Scottish Diesel Car of the year 2013 award.

So how does it fare in the Leon load lugger?

Quite simply, superbly.

The power comes smoothly or quickly whenever you require it from this 181bhp engine that is capable of reaching 62mph in 7.8 seconds and has a top speed of 142mph.

This FR version is an estate that is super fun to drive and I enjoyed my time with it, especially moving up and down the slick six-speed manual gearbox, on a familiar stretch of winding, country roads.

It will also lap up the miles, laden or unladen, without fuss on motorways and has another big plus point.

Fuel economy figures show that it is capable of achieving 65.7mpg combined, 53.3mpg urban and 72.4mpg extra urban.

You will spot these sporting models with their FR badges on the front and rear as well as the twin chrome exhaust pipe, and the sporty theme continues inside which includes front sports seats – the test model had optional leather sports seats – and perforated leather steering steel with red stitching and FR logo.

ST model prices start at £16,675 but you’ll need a stake of £23,380 to grab this top-spec sporting estate and that’s not a gamble – it’s money well invested by my reckoning.

SEAT hasn’t been slow to get back to a winning table by upping the stakes with four of a kind when the Leon Cupra models hit the roads in the UK last month – I’ll let you know if these latest high-performance cars are sure-fire winners in a future issue.