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Driven: Cupra Leon Estate. Image by Cupra.

Driven: Cupra Leon Estate
Can Cupraís high-performance estate really be better than its already brilliant 300hp hatchback?

   



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Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310PS

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

On paper, the Cupra Leon Estate looks like the car that does it all. By offering a sportier version of the Seat Leon Estate, Cupra has created something fast, spacious, good looking and available with all-wheel drive, yet somehow it's still a rare sight on UK roads. So does this multi-talented wagon deserve a bit more love from the car-buying public, or is it destined to remain a niche choice?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310PS DSG
Price: £48,340 as tested
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 310hp
Torque: 400Nm
Emissions: 188g/km
Economy: 32.8-34.0mpg
0-62mph: 4.9 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Boot space: 620 litres

Styling

As Cupra was once simply a badge applied to fast Seats, it's no surprise to see the Leon Estate looks much like a standard Seat Leon Estate, albeit with a few accoutrements. There's nothing wrong with that, though, because the Leon Estate is one of the prettiest five-doors around, what with its sharp nose and long body. It's an attractive thing. And the Cupra version may get Cupra's ridiculous logo, but it also gets sportier bumpers, bigger wheels and some bronze touches, which work surprisingly well. All in all, it's pretty easy on the eye. Some might say it's even more attractive than the hatchback.

Interior

As you might expect, the Cupra Leon Estate's cabin doesn't feel all that different from that of the hatchback, or indeed that of a standard Seat Leon. It has the same big touchscreen, the same toggle-style gear selector and the same digital instrument display. Only the details have changed dramatically, such as the bronze trim all around and the steering wheel, which now gets all sorts of buttons and switches. There are sports seats, too, which also help to add some motorsport-style atmosphere.

That means the Leon's cabin is built just as well as that of the standard Seat, and that's good news indeed. While some of the touch-sensitive switches feel irritating to use (particularly the touch-sensitive sliders below the touchscreen) the majority of the cabin feels well judged and well made, with solid materials matched by impressive engineering. It all feels very robust.

And sliders aside, the touchscreen tech isn't bad, either. The Cupra infotainment system, which is common throughout the range, feels like one of the better VW Group systems of late, even though it looks a bit fussy at first. But once you've got your head around it, it's clear and reasonably easy to use, and it works well with the configurable digital instrument cluster and the standard smartphone integration technology.

Practicality

Estate cars are designed to be practical, and though the Cupra Leon might be fast, the performance has not come at the cost of space. At 620 litres with all five seats in use, the boot is pretty roomy, and it's exactly the same size as that of a conventional Leon Estate. You get the same amount of cabin space, too, which means those in the front have ample room and ample storage, while those in the back will also be comfortable enough, even if the rear space is adequate rather than spectacular.

Performance

The Cupra Leon Estate comes with a very slightly different engine range to the hatchback, albeit only different in the details. The cheapest option is the 1.5-litre, 150hp petrol engine, which is available in conventional manual and mild-hybrid automatic forms. Then thereís the 1.4-litre plug-in hybrid with 245hp and a rechargeable battery with a 36-mile electric range Ė the same hybrid system used in the VW Golf GTE.

But the highlight is the 2.0-litre, 310hp petrol engine seen here. Itís the equivalent of the 300hp engine used in the hatchback, but Cupra has given it all-wheel drive and an extra 10hp for the estate. That means better traction, and that, coupled with the seven-speed automatic transmission, allows the Leon Estate to get from 0-62mph in less than five seconds. At top speed, itíll do 155mph.

That performance is, to a degree, governed by the driving modes, altered using a switch on the steering wheel. In Comfort mode, the car is quick enough, but the Dynamic and Cupra modes offer faster responses from the throttle and the transmission. They pipe some fake engine sound into the cabin, too, which feels a little unnecessary, especially as it doesnít sound too bad anyway. Maybe it isnít especially angry, but itís sporty enough, and the artificial sound system adds little.

Ride & Handling

Even in estate form, the Cupra Leon doesnít lack performance. The steering feels a little lightweight, but the response is sharp and the body is well controlled by the sports suspension. It isnít as agile as a Ford Focus ST, but itís up there with the VW Golf R with which it shares so much. And thereís no need to worry about the estate body damaging the Cupraís handling Ė you barely notice the extra weight at the rear, and the all-wheel-drive system gives it plenty of stability. The brakes are great, too.

The slight catch is a moderately firm ride. The Cupra isnít harsh in any way, but you certainly notice the less-than-exemplary road surfaces more than you would in a conventional Seat Leon Estate. That said, it settles into an amicable cruise, so thereís nothing to stop you eating the motorway miles with ease; it just jars a little around town.

Value

Because Cupra sees itself as sportier and more premium than the Seat mothership, it can charge quite a lot more. Whereas the cheapest Seat Leon Estate comes in at £24,705, you'll pay at least £32,650 for a Cupra Leon Estate. Admittedly, the Cupra comes with a 1.5-litre, 150hp petrol engine as standard, whereas the Seat just gets a 110hp, 1.0-litre unit, but it's still quite the price hike. And once you go for the 'proper' high-performance Cupra Leon Estate, with the 310hp petrol engine and all-wheel drive, you'll pay a minimum of £44,990. It isn't cheap, but it's cheaper than the closely related VW Golf R Estate, which has much the same engine and costs £46,950.

Standard Cupra Leon Estate models come with plenty of equipment, at least, but the line-up is confusing. The entry-level option is the V1, which gets 18-inch alloys, satellite navigation, automatic lights and wipers, a reversing camera and three-zone climate control, but you can step up to the V1 Design Edition, the VZ2 Design Edition, or the VZ3 Design Edition tested here. That range-topping model gets 19-inch alloys, a panoramic sunroof and leather-trimmed sports seats, among other features, so you get plenty for your money. But our test car came in at a hefty £48,340.

Verdict

While the Cupra Leon Estate may not be perfect, it's pretty damn good. It has the ability to be all cars to all people, mixing compact dimensions with interior space and offering speed and surefootedness all at the same time. Sure, it isn't cheap and there seems to be some kind of weird estate phobia among buyers, but for those who get it, the Cupra is a thoroughly brilliant all-rounder.



James Fossdyke - 26 Feb 2024



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2024 Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310 DSG. Image by Cupra.2024 Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310 DSG. Image by Cupra.2024 Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310 DSG. Image by Cupra.2024 Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310 DSG. Image by Cupra.2024 Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310 DSG. Image by Cupra.

2024 Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310 DSG. Image by Cupra.2024 Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310 DSG. Image by Cupra.2024 Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310 DSG. Image by Cupra.2024 Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310 DSG. Image by Cupra.2024 Cupra Leon Estate VZ3 Design Edition 2.0 TSI 4Drive 310 DSG. Image by Cupra.








 

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