Cupra Leon Estate review
"The Cupra Leon Estate is a left-field choice that’s fast, fun and practical"
- Fast and fun to drive
- Spacious interior
- Plug-in hybrid version is cheap to run
- Petrol model is pricey to run
- Hybrid version is a little dull
- Infotainment system could be better
Verdict – is the Cupra Leon Estate a good car?
The Cupra Leon Estate offers a left-field choice for buyers after a sporty hot hatch with a little more practicality, making it a well-rounded option. Buyers are well catered for in terms of engine options, too, and those after lower running costs will appreciate the plug-in hybrid version. With a more upmarket, sporty image compared with the SEAT Leon Estate, the Cupra seems like an obvious upgrade.
Cupra Leon Estate models, specs and alternatives
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 more powerful engines. The Cupra Leon Estate is a sporty estate car with a choice of petrol engines or a plug-in hybrid set-up and the highest-power petrol version is a close rival for the Volkswagen Golf R Estate.
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. A lower-powered 2.0-litre petrol and 1.5-litre petrol engine are also offered and are the most affordable cars in the line-up to buy and run.
Cupra revised the Leon’s trim structure in September 2023, adding Design Edition models which add an extra dose of sporty styling. The lineup now consists of V1, V1 Design Edition, VZ2 Design Edition and VZ3 Design Edition. The Cupra Leon is more upmarket than the SEAT version, and even entry-level V1 models come with 18-inch alloys, LED lights, a 10-inch touchscreen display, sports seats and a reversing camera.
Anything above V1 trim gets the ‘Design Edition’ spec, which adds copper and black colouring to the wheels, a panoramic roof, black spoiler trim extension and side skirts. Versions from VZ2 Design Edition upwards come with 19-inch alloys, while the VZ3 Design Edition adds wireless phone charging and leather seats, plus the option of Brembo brakes.
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 more powerful petrol model will cost quite a lot to run, as it isn’t very economical, the entry 1.5-litre is several thousand pounds cheaper to purchase and has the best fuel efficiency of the regular petrol range. 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
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.
At the other end of the spectrum, 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 and is best suited to private buyers who don’t cover too many miles.
While in the Cupra hatchback buyers have the choice of the same 2.0-litre petrol engine in 245 and 190 versions, the estate is only offered in 310 or 190 models. The Leon 190 increases fuel economy to 41.6mpg, which is some way off the 47.3mpg of the smaller 1.5-litre Leon 150 estate.
Engines, drive & 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.
The Leon 190 retains the 2.0-litre petrol engine, but loses the all-wheel drive and power has been reduced to 187bhp. Buyers who want the looks and space of the Leon Estate, but with better fuel economy, cheaper insurance and a lower purchase price also have the entry-level 1.5-litre Leon 150 model to consider.
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
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.
V1 is the entry-level spec, and comes 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. V1 Design Edition adds 18-inch wheels finished in copper and black colours, plus styling upgrades such as a black spoiler extension and side skirts and a panoramic roof. VZ2 Design Edition and upwards get larger 19-inch wheels and wireless smartphone integration, plus high beam assist, traffic sign recognition and lane change assist tech. Top-spec VZ3 Design Edition comes with wireless phone charging, heated leather seats, a power tailgate and matrix LED headlights. Buyers opting for the top-spec model can also specify optional Brembo brakes.
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 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, 190, and 150 models, which are 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
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, but didn’t feature in 2023’s results. 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 Cupra brand didn’t feature in our survey either, but SEAT came in 23rd out of 32 manufacturers, with 21% of owners reporting an issue in the first year of ownership – a lower figure than that of its Volkswagen, Skoda or Audi sister brands.
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.