Cupra Leon Review 2024

Cupra Leon At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Cupra Leon is a grown-up ‘warm’ or hot hatchback, with an upmarket interior and useful practicality. It’s good to drive, and suitably rapid with the top engines, albeit less fun to drive than some rivals.

+Strong performance. Interior is spacious and well-made. Generous level of standard equipment. Good value for money.

-Less exciting than previous versions. Touchscreen infotainment system is difficult to use. Fastest models are expensive to run.

New prices start from £35,760

Previous Cupra-branded Leons were often the wildest hot hatchbacks in the Volkswagen Group stable. Now, with a move upmarket, the latest Cupra Leon has become more mature – and closer to rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Skoda Octavia vRS. To prove how sensible the new Leon is, you can even choose a plug-in hybrid version.

It has been several years since Cupra became a standalone performance brand, after years of being the badge for the most hardcore SEAT models. The Leon is the first hot hatchback (and estate) to receive the official Cupra treatment, making it a significant car.

Previous Cupra-badged Leons were typically unrelenting to drive, with a single-minded focus on performance. However, with Cupra now a brand in its own right, cars like the Leon have to offer a wider appeal.

This means the Cupra Leon is offered with a host of engine options, including a plug-in hybrid. At the bottom of the ladder, the ‘mild’ engines are taken directly from the regular SEAT Leon range: a 150PS 1.5-litre TSI and a 190PS 2.0 TSI (both petrol). Although these are fine in isolation, they do not live up to the expectations created by the Cupra brand.

Further up the range, the Cupra Leon is more like the hardcore offering enthusiasts were familiar with. The Cupra 300 hatchback is a thinly disguised version of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport, while the all-wheel-drive Cupra 310 Estate owes much to the Volkswagen Golf R. These are far more in keeping with the Cupra name.

A plug-in hybrid is also part of the range, with low Benefit-in-Kind company car tax rates that will appeal to fleet drivers. It can travel almost 40 miles on electric power alone, with a 245PS output delivering Cupra-worthy levels of performance.

As part of the more grown-up mindset, Cupra has also tailored the Leon’s ride and handling to be more forgiving. Most trim levels include the useful adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control, which offers near-endless scope for suspension damper tuning. Avoid the stiffest setting and the Leon remains compliant on rough tarmac.

The Leon’s steering is light, even with Cupra mode engaged, and precise enough for sporty driving. Just do not expect too much in the way of feedback or fun.

On the inside, the Cupra Leon delivers a surprising amount of practicality, aided by a large amount of rear legroom. Boot space in non-hybrid hatches is competitive, at 380 litres, while the estate boasts up to 620 litres of luggage capacity with the rear seats up. 

Cupra has also upgraded the Leon’s interior with fancy copper detailing, sports seats and a wealth of standard equipment. Satellite navigation, three-zone climate control,and a rear-view camera are fitted to all models.

It all goes towards justifying the price tag that has become closer to its key rivals. However, much of this technology has to be accessed through a frustrating infotainment system.

Unlike some of its predecessors, the Cupra Leon is now a fairly sensible performance car. With strong levels of standard equipment, it still delivers on value, and the practical interior makes it viable for families. Everyone has to grow up at some point, and perhaps this even applies to hot hatchbacks.

Ask Honest John

Buying a powerful estate car - should I choose petrol or a hybrid?

"I am looking to replace my car soon but cannot decide whether to buy a hybrid or a petrol. I mainly do local journeys with a monthly round motorway trip of approx 350 miles. My annual mileage is 8000. My heart says go for a relatively powerful petrol car but my head says I should find a hybrid. It must be a medium-sized estate car - big enough to carry a dog. I cannot afford to purchase a fully electric vehicle. What do you recommend?"
The new Cupra Leon estate has both options on offer. There's the 310PS top-of-the-range model, which comes with four-wheel drive as standard. The other option is the 245PS e-Hybrid PHEV. It's quite quick on paper, although there's a fair amount of lag in the drivetrain, so don't expect it to feel as fast as your Leon. The PHEV makes a lot of sense if you have somewhere to charge the car and it will complete short journeys (30 miles or so) on electricity alone, so could save you a significant amount petrol. On longer drives, though, fuel economy will be more in keeping with a conventional petrol.
Answered by Russell Campbell
More Questions

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