In-depth reviews

Cupra Leon Estate review

"The Cupra Leon Estate is a left-field choice that’s fast, fun and practical"

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Pros

  • Fast and fun to drive
  • Spacious interior
  • Plug-in hybrid version is cheap to run

Cons

  • Petrol model is pricey to run
  • Hybrid version is a little dull
  • No manual gearbox

The Cupra Leon Estate is the extended, more practical version of the normal Cupra Leon, which itself is based on the SEAT Leon, a normal family car that’s similar to the Volkswagen Golf.

Cupra is a new brand that’s closely linked to SEAT – it uses many of the same models, including the Leon, for its line-up but offers them only with high-spec trim levels and the more powerful engines. The Cupra Leon Estate is a performance estate car with either a powerful petrol motor or a hybrid set-up and the petrol version is a close rival for the Volkswagen Golf R Estate.

Top 10 best fast estates 2022

The Cupra Leon Estate is actually the most powerful model in the entire Leon range, because it has 306bhp – the hatchback model has 296bhp. The hybrid Estate is the same as the hatchback in terms of power, though – both have 242bhp. The normal petrol uses a 2.0-litre engine, while the plug-in hybrid has a 1.4-litre engine and an electric motor.

Both models are fast and fun to drive, but also quite luxurious. The Cupra Leon is more upmarket than the SEAT version, and even entry-level VZ1 models come with 18-inch alloys, LED lights, a 10-inch touchscreen display, sports seats and a reversing camera. Higher-speed VZ2 versions come with 19-inch alloys, while the VZ3 edition adds wireless phone charging and leather seats.

One optional extra to be aware of is Dynamic Chassis Control, which adds adjustable suspension at the touch of a button. It’s good for changing to a softer setting for daily driving and a stiffer one for a twisty, fun road. There’s lots of grip in the Cupra Leon Estate and it’s very nearly as agile as the hatchback.

The key thing with an estate car is that it has a bigger boot and a more practical interior space than its hatchback counterpart. Here that means there’s a 620-litre boot with the seats up, which is a really big area and the load bay is a great shape. It’s a hugely practical car considering how much performance it has.

While the petrol model will cost quite a lot to run, as it isn’t very economical, the hybrid model sacrifices some performance and fun for lower costs. It’s still fast enough for most, but its low company-car tax and higher fuel economy mean it’s more attractive as a family car for a lot of people.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Plug-in hybrid model is fantastic for company car buyers, as tax is low and fuel economy is high

The plug-in hybrid version of the car is called the Cupra Leon Estate e-Hybrid 245. It has a 1.4-litre petrol engine and an electric motor fed by a 13kWh battery, so it’s able to drive for around 35 miles on electric power alone. Official combined economy is over 200mpg, but that will vary depending on your usage – the more you plug in, the less fuel you’ll use.

This model is excellent for company-car drivers because it has emissions of 29g/km of CO2, which results in a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax rating. Combined with the high fuel economy, this version has the potential for being very cheap to run, especially compared to the petrol model.

The Cupra Leon Estate TSI 4Drive 310 is the 2.0-litre petrol version with four-wheel drive. It’s rather thirsty, and while it can return around 33mpg according to official figures, it’s likely to be less economical than that if you use much of its performance regularly. It’s also in the highest BiK bracket, 37%, so is pricey to run no matter how you look at it.

Cupra offers a three-year/60,000 mile warranty as standard, though this can be extended to four years/75,000 miles or five years/90,000 miles at a pretty reasonable cost. The Cupra Leon is quite an expensive car to buy in the first place, so high running costs won’t necessarily be a problem for wealthy buyers, but it’s worth knowing that the hybrid version is definitely the one to pick if costs are an issue. 

Engines, drive & performance

The Cupra Leon is incredibly fast and it’s easy to access the performance

The model to choose for the ultimate Leon Estate in terms of performance is the TSI 310. It has a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 306bhp, four-wheel drive and a DSG automatic gearbox. It’s even more powerful than the Leon hatchback in the Cupra range, and matches the VW Golf R Estate for power.

This version can go from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds – an astonishing time for a practical estate car – and up to a top speed of 155mph. It’s easy to access the performance because it’s automatic-only and has four-wheel drive. This means there’s loads of grip and the car does most of the hard work for you in getting up to speed as efficiently as possible.

This means it’s not as exciting or rewarding to drive as some other fast estates including the Ford Focus ST Estate, but it means the Cupra is very fast no matter who is driving. It’s still a calm and smooth everyday car if you change to a less sporty driving mode too, so it makes a great all-rounder. 

It’s comfortable when you want to do a long motorway trip, but also really exciting on a twisty bit of road, just like the VW Golf R Estate. There’s not much to separate the two, in fact; both of these hot estate cars have a similar approach, although the Cupra is a bit flashier to look at and it sounds better as well.

Don’t forget that there’s also an e-Hybrid model with a 1.4-litre petrol engine, electric motor and battery. This version has 242bhp, and it’s also quite a lot heavier than the 310, so it takes seven seconds to get to 62mph and its top speed is 140mph. It’s fast enough to have some fun, but the extra weight means it’s less grippy and agile in corners, and so it’s a bit less fun overall. 

Interior & comfort

Smart-looking interior is pleasant to spend time in, but infotainment is frustrating

The Cupra Leon Estate has the same interior forward of the front seats as the normal Cupra Leon, which means it’s a smart-looking place with an angular dashboard, some nice materials including copper-coloured surfaces and soft-touch plastics and a very useful steering wheel with easy access to driving modes and paddles to change gear.

All cars come with privacy glass, folding door mirrors and LED lights, plus digital dials and a 10-inch infotainment display with sat-nav and a rear-view camera. VZ2 also comes with 19-inch wheels and wireless smartphone integration, plus high beam assist, traffic sign recognition and lane change assist tech. Top-spec VZ3 comes with wireless phone charging, heated leather seats, a power tailgate and matrix LED headlights.

Unfortunately the infotainment set-up in the Cupra Leon isn’t the best on the market. The screen looks smart and has all the features you need with smartphone integration support, but it has too many functions on it. There’s no easy way to change settings like air-con temperature, as there are no physical controls for that - you have to use the touchscreen. This feels frustrating at best and dangerous at worst while you’re driving. This is the same as in the VW Golf R Estate, though – both models are just as annoying to use from that perspective.

Practicality & boot space

The Leon’s roomy interior is a big selling point, especially in Estate form

The Cupra Leon Estate has just as much space inside as a SEAT Leon Estate. This means there’s lots of room in the front and enough capacity in the back seats for adults to get comfortable too. Legroom and headroom are both good, so it’s a great family car option.

The Estate version is all about the boot, though, and it’s usefully bigger than the Leon hatchback’s luggage area. While the hatch has 270-380 litres of boot space depending on which version you choose, the Estate has up to 620 litres available in the back.

This is for the 310 model, which is petrol-only. If you opt for the e-Hybrid 245 model, which has a large battery pack and electric motor on board, boot space is dropped to 470 litres. This is still more than even the non-hybrid hatch versions of the Leon, and the large hatch and flat floor mean that it’s a very usable and useful space. There’s a bit of a loading lip but it’s not huge and storing items is easy enough.

Reliability & safety

Safety kit is good and the Cupra should match rivals for reliability

The Cupra Leon is closely related to the SEAT Leon, which came in 29th out of the top 75 models in our 2022 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. This means it should be just as reliable and good to own, and despite Cupra being a new brand, its models share many parts with cars from Audi, Volkswagen and Skoda – so they’re well-developed.

The Leon has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, and this shows how the Cupra model will perform in a crash as well, since the models are so similar. Standard safety kit includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane assist and tiredness recognition. The 310 model also comes with traffic sign recognition, high beam assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane change assist. You can add these to the e-Hybrid version as part of the Safety & Driving packs.

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