Putting its durability to an extreme test across rocky ground, sand dunes and dust, a SEAT Leon X-Perience has been driven hundreds of miles through the Sahara desert.
The route, which was in the zone of Errachidia, Morocco, took the car over rocky terrain, sand and the Erg Chebbi dune. At 13.7 miles long, 3.1 miles wide and with ridges that exceed 150 metres in height, this is one of the most well-known dunes in the Sahara desert.
One of the tests for the Leon X-Perience was coping with the extreme temperature variations. With outside temperatures that vary from below zero at night and 50 degrees during the day, the temperature inside can reach up to 60 degrees. One of the challenges of testing in the desert is to ensure that outside variations do not affect the interior of the passenger compartment nor the driver.
The Scirocco, a south-eastern wind common to this area, can carry dust particles that measure one micron, or one-thousandth of a millimetre. Before a model goes on sale, SEAT prototypes undergo several tests to ensure the passenger compartment is water and airtight. The goal is to ensure that, in real driving conditions and of those carried out by the Leon in the desert, not a micron of dust gets into the passenger compartment.
Sandstorms are a common weather phenomenon in desert areas. Although they move quickly, reaching up to 45mph, the best thing to do in such a situation is to stop, face the car away from the direction of the wind and wait until it blows over, if you ever happen to take a wrong turn and end up in the Sahara.
Unlike driving on a paved surface, one of the keys to driving on sand is to slightly decrease the pressure of the tyres so that they have greater ground contact. Likewise, in order to drive across a dune, SEAT engineers found it best to face it straight on and go up at a certain speed. To ensure you remain in control of the vehicle, never go downhill in neutral.
The SEAT Leon X-Perience costs £28,210 OTR for the SE Technology and £32,210 OTR for the SE LUX model.