Rowan Horncastle23 June 2014

This is the new Seat X-Perience

No, not a corporate bonding day, but a Leon ST made more rugged

Having already launched a five-door hatchback, three-door coupe, hotted-up and wagonised version of the rather good new Leon, Seat has just unveiled another flavour: the crossover.

It's called the X-Perience (yes, really) and is a jacked-up, cladded and four-wheel-drive Leon ST for people who may drive on rough stuff but don't want to be seen in an SUV.

Much like the Skoda Octavia Scout and Audi A6 Allroad, the X-Perience hasn't adopted a full juggernaut suit, but sports lightweight armour: there's some extra cladding on the door sills and wheel arches, a 15mm increase in ride height, plus a Haldex multi-plate clutch four-wheel drive system.

The X-Perience will be predominately front-wheel-drive, and when needed, the Haldex four-wheel-drive system will kick with the VAG group's EDS and XDS electronic systems to lock the diffs on both axles. Ideal for scrambling over slippery rocks, sand dunes or the wicker basket you accidentally ran over at the village fete.

As for the engines, there are two of the usual MQB four-cylinder diesels available. The most powerful is the 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel ­which is hooked up to a DSG transmission as standard. The manufacturer claims that this is good for 55.3mpg and 133g/km. Or for the more frugal, there's a detuned version of the same engine (148bhp) with a six-speed manual and a claimed 57.6mpg and 126g/km of CO2.

Aside from some X-Perience logos and an optional Alcantara seats, inside it's pretty much business as usual. Outside the sharp lines and slashes remain but are complimented with an aluminium finish to the front and rear bumper, a pair of chrome exhaust pipes and either 17 or 18-inch alloy wheels. And despite the broad-shoulders it hasn't lost any of that all-important bootspace: 587 litres seats up, and 1470 litres when they're flat to the floor. That's 111 more than a Focus estate, and only a shade off the class-leading Octavia Estate.

The X-Perience will be available in the UK from September, but crucially, gives us an idea about what could running gear could be thrown into Seat's upcoming MQB SUV that's due to arrive in 2016...

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