At a time when the drivetrains powering our cars evolve at a pace that must give the average workshop technician a sore head, the Leon ST’s humble one-litre petrol engine makes a lot of sense.
While many are ready to adapt their driving to make the most of a hybrid or electric vehicle, though, I suspect some retail buyers may still turn their noses up at such a small engine.
Fresh from a 360-mile round trip to South Wales for a family wedding – complete with family of four and luggage for two nights – it’s hard to question the little turbocharged motor.
It’s far from rapid, with a claimed 10.1-second acceleration to 62mph, but fears that it might struggle with the weight on board were dispelled by 200Nm of torque from just 2,000rpm.
Even with its 587-litre boot packed to the gunwales and some testing Monmouthshire hills and curves to tackle, the Leon pulled and turned with aplomb. With the help of the entry-level SE model’s standard-fit cruise control on the motorway miles, average fuel efficiency was more than 54mpg.
More than the questions about the need for big, powerful engines in cars built for practicality rather than driving thrills, the Leon ST is a car that keeps asking questions of all the SUVs we now see on our roads.
Even in its ‘basic’ trim, the Leon impresses with its space, running costs and an entry-level specification that meets so many of my own requirements for a family car.