The Leon Cupra has always been somewhat underappreciated with buyers, with brands such as Volkswagen, Ford, Renault and Honda tending to rule in this segment, despite it being a rather excellent hot hatch.
But that changes when you add a practical estate version to the range, which Seat has done for several years with its Leon. There is something incredibly appealing about a hot estate car, and Seat has done well with this.
The latest powertrain update on the normal Leon Cupra comes in the form of the ‘300’, which produces 296bhp – 10 more than before. Seat has also switched the driven wheels from just the fronts to all four wheels.
There have also been a few naming changes. For starters, Cupra split from Seat last year to form into a separate performance brand. The problem for the Leon is that it sits in the muddled transition stage, so while the Spanish firm wants you to think it’s a Cupra, it’s still plastered with Seat badges. More recently the wagon has also been renamed from the ‘Sports Tourer’ or ‘ST’ to the ‘Estate’, as part of model year updates.
The Leon Cupra utilises a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 296bhp and 400Nm of torque. It’s the same powertrain used in many Volkswagen Group products – most notably the Volkswagen Golf R – and offers a fantastic combination between day-to-day usability and outright performance.
The extra traction from the all-wheel-drive means 0-60mph is delivered in just five seconds, while the top speed is set at a claimed 165mph – 10mph more than the electronically-limited VWs. The DSG automatic transmission is also a great match for the Leon, too.
Ride and handling
The increase in power might be small but it’s certainly noticeable – the acceleration off the line is superb and it keeps on pulling throughout the rev range, with superb traction and grip from the all-wheel-drive system. A front-wheel-drive version would help to make the car feel more agile and lively. Though in a practical estate, the security of all-wheel-drive comes in useful.
The steering is also perfectly judged, and despite its increased weight and dimensions over the five-door hatchback, it feels every bit as nimble.
Interior and equipment
The Leon’s cabin is everything we’ve come to expect from a Volkswagen Group model – a superb infotainment system, excellent build quality, although little in the way of excitement.
The same is true with the Cupra, which just doesn’t feel quite as exciting or sporty as we might expect from a hot estate car. That said, the figure-hugging sports seats are a welcome addition to the interior.
Another asset with the Estate is its superb practicality – the boot offering 587 litres with the seats up or 1,480 litres with them folded flat. Passenger space is plentiful, too.
Standard equipment is generous throughout the Leon range, but particularly so on the Cupra. It features 19-inch alloy wheels, a digital cockpit, the option of different drive modes, LED headlights, ambient interior lighting and an eight-inch touchscreen.
There is also a Cupra Lux version offered, which adds heated front bucket seats, keyless entry and adaptive cruise control.
Prices for the Leon Estate Cupra start from £33,395, which is comparative to the less powerful Ford Focus ST Wagon, but substantially cheaper than the Volkswagen Golf Estate R, which is a somewhat costly £37,350. This helps to make the Cupra look like a bargain performance option. We would also recommend choosing the Cupra Lux, as the additional equipment feels good value at an additional £1,400 over the regular car.
The Seat Leon Estate Cupra is a hugely accomplished fast tourer. It’s exceedingly practical, great value for money next to rivals and offers accessible performance that’s easy to exploit thanks to the all-wheel-traction.
While the interior might not be enough to match rivals, it remains a classy cabin and does very little to dent a brilliant overall package.