Cupra Leon Review & Prices
The Cupra Leon is an ultra-stylish family car with a thrilling high-performance version, but despite the plug-in hybrid's excellent efficiency it loses some of that hot hatch appeal
Find out more about the Cupra Leon
Confused? You're not the only one. You see, Cupra is still part of the SEAT family, but like when Robbie Williams left Take That, it’s struck out on its own to become edgier and cooler. That means it has its own fully bespoke models, like the Formentor, and also means this Leon doesn’t have a single SEAT badge anywhere.
You can tell it apart from your bog-standard SEAT Leon by its lower, meaner stance, bigger wheels with elaborate designs and lashings of copper detailing. There’s also enlarged front grilles for a more aggressive face, and sporty exhaust finishers. It certainly looks more special, but it doesn’t go all out like the mad Honda Civic Type R. You also get Cupra’s bizarre tribal logo, too, but it’s a shame there’s no three-door version any more.
The new Cupra Leon gets pretty much the same cabin as the SEAT Leon, bar a few tweaks. So it’s all very simple and very minimalist. There’s a big 12.0-inch infotainment screen, a digital driver’s display, and very few buttons. There is a new sports steering wheel, though, with a flat bottom, lots of copper stitching and (on certain versions) cool starter and drive mode buttons, like a supercar. Sports seats and unique screen displays also spice things up a bit. It’s not the poshest hot hatch cabin around, but that’s reflected in the price.
It’s certainly very roomy, too – like the SEAT version. There’s loads of space for adults in the back, plus a good sized boot. Only the Skoda Octavia vRS really offers more in the way of practicality.
300hp through the front wheels should be chaos, but the Cupra Leon is both civilised when you want it to be and great fun when you don't
The Cupra Leon offers something for everyone (well, except diesel fans) in its engine range. Most are petrols, with a couple of lower-powered options for those who want something stylish without expensive running costs, ranging up to a 300hp option that's a proper hot hatch.
It’s worth noting that a more powerful 310hp version is only available in the Cupra Leon Estate, and with four-wheel drive. It’s more practical and is easily the quickest in terms of launching off the line, plus offers plenty of security in the wet.
However, while the Leon hatchback is only available with front-wheel drive, that's not a down side. The more powerful AWD option is nowhere near as exciting to drive, so the only reason to go for that model is if you need the estate's extra luggage space.
The Cupra Leon is one of the first hot hatches to come with hybrid power. This version is imaginatively called the eHybrid, and it combines a petrol engine with an electric motor. These work together to produce 245hp, but the 400Nm torque figure is the same as the range-topping car. It can also travel up to 37 miles on battery power alone, but it’s heavier and not as fun to drive as the other models.
The entry-level 150hp engine is available with a six-speed manual gearbox, but you get an automatic gearbox in everything else. It’s a dual-clutch unit – just like in the old Leon Cupra, Golf R or Audi S3.
The Cupra’s handling varies between being a bit underwhelming in the eHybrid, super grippy and secure in the four-wheel drive 310 and a great blend of agility, fun and relative comfort in the 300. The latter feels a lot like the VW Golf GTI – no surprise, it’s heavily related – but it’s just a bit more responsive thanks to Cupra’s tweaks. Sure, a Honda Civic Type R feels more sporting still, but it’s also less refined.
The other ace up the Cupra’s sleeve is its relative value. The 300hp Cupra Leon is barely any pricier than an entry-level 245hp Golf GTI, yet comes with more equipment as standard. What’s not to like?
However, if you’d like to see how much money you could save through carwow, check out our Cupra Leon deals page. If you're looking to save even more cash, why not check out our used Cupra Leon deals, as well as listings of other used Cupra models. And when it's time to sell your car, you can do that through carwow, too.
The Cupra Leon has a RRP range of £30,455 to £44,025. However, with carwow you can save on average £1,022. Prices start at £29,702 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £262. The price of a used Cupra Leon on carwow starts at £20,790.
Our most popular versions of the Cupra Leon are:
|Model version||carwow price from|
|1.5 TSI V1 5dr||£29,702||Compare offers|
The Cupra Leon looks like great value when compared to a Volkswagen Golf GTI because it gives you more power for less outlay. Dig into the spec sheets and it is possible to see where savings have been made, the Cupra Leon misses out on the active cruise control and matrix LED headlights that are fitted as standard to a Golf GTI.
The Cupra Leon is easy to drive, but also devastatingly quick on a country road, but it’s a shame it’s not as rewarding as the Honda Civic Type R
The Cupra Leon is a comfortable hot hatch in town. With its optional adaptive dampers in their comfiest setting, the Cupra absorbs lumps and bumps well and its automatic gearbox shifts through the gears quickly and smoothly. Plug-in hybrid models are particularly relaxing because they can run around on silent electric power.
A tight turning circle makes Leon Cupra more manoeuvrable than a Golf GTI, but it does suffer from a large blind spot around the rear pillars. Standard rear parking sensors make up for this, but a reversing camera, front sensors and auto park are all on the options list.
On the motorway
The Leon Cupra is slightly noisier on the motorway than a Volkswagen Golf GTI, suffering from more tyre roar at high speeds thanks to having less sound deadening than the VW. Having said that, the Leon is noticeably quieter than the Hyundai i30 N, and all versions of the Cupra come with cruise control fitted as standard.
On a twisty road
Stick the Leon in hardcore Cupra mode and the car’s optional adaptive dampers – they have 15 different settings – firm up to near-race-car levels and it corners almost completely flat, giving you the confidence to make full use of the car’s quick and direct steering.
Power out of corners and you can feel the Cupra’s electronic differential biting into the ground to give you lots of traction.
Cupra’s even thought about the brakes. Up front, you get big four-pot callipers that grab the front discs like a giant’s handshake.
Overall, it feels like a quicker more focused hot hatch than the Volkswagen Golf GTI but is an easier car to live with than the likes of the excellent Hyundai i30 N or Honda Civic Type R.
The Cupra Leon is surprisingly spacious inside for its size, although some alternatives offer more space outright
The Cupra Leon’s front seats have plenty of adjustment – you can jack them up high if you’re small or lower them into the carpet if you’re tall – and the steering wheel also offers plenty of movement. Head, leg and elbow room are all great and the Cupra Leon’s sports seats keep you clamped in position even when cornering hard.
Keeping the interior tidy shouldn’t be a problem. The Leon has a cubby under the front centre armrest complete with a 12V power socket, two cup holders behind the gear lever and a tray for your phone in the centre console with a pair of USB-C plugs for charging. A wireless charging pad is optional.
On top of all that, the glovebox is a decent size, so are the door pockets and you get another pair of cup holders recessed into the rear centre armrest – although they do get in the way of your elbow when you rest it.
Space in the back seats
The Cupra Leon has a roomier back seat than the Volkswagen Golf GTI; you get loads of headroom for a car this size and plenty of knee room.
With three people in the back, the wide middle seat is also reasonably comfortable, there’s plenty of room for three people’s feet and the Cupra’s wide body means your passengers won’t feel too crushed.
Unfortunately, those one-piece front seats block your passengers' forward view but, on the bright side, people in the back seat get an air vent and heater controls.
Fitting a child seat is also relatively easy thanks to the Cupra’s boxy shape, wide-opening rear doors and clearly marked ISOFIX points.
Press the Curpa Leon’s badge (which doubles as a boot release) and you’ll reveal a 380-litre capacity that is above average for this size of car, but still some way off the 590-litre boot offered by the Skoda Octavia vRS.
Unfortunately, despite having an identical boot capacity figure, the Cupra misses out on the handy adjustable boot floor that is fitted as standard on the Volkswagen Golf GTI, so there’s a bit of a load lip to lift luggage and the floor is uneven if you fold down the car’s back seats.
The Cupra Leon’s interior gets several features that mark it out from the rest of the Leon range, although the infotainment system still isn’t very good
Inside, plenty of things mark the Cupra Leon out from the SEAT Leon it is based upon. You get a sports steering wheel with a flat bottom, a starter button and shortcut switches for the car’s driving modes.
Copper highlights lift the otherwise dark cabin and you also get one-piece seats with lots of side support, ‘Cupra’ scrawled kick plates, ‘Cupra’ emblazoned carpets and aluminium kick plates.
The upgrades aren’t limited to the Cupra’s hardware, its software has also been updated with unique Cupra graphics on the car’s digital instrument binnacle and centre touchscreen infotainment.
Speaking of infotainment, the Leon’s is a bit of a fiddle to use on the move, suffers from plenty of glitches and has annoying touch-sensitive heater controls that you can’t see at night. At least Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are fitted as standard so you can mirror your phone’s display on the car's big screen.
The Cupra Leon is available with a choice of three petrol engines and a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid.
The 150hp 1.5-litre petrol is a balanced performer. It gets from 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds and returns fuel economy of more than 45mpg if you’re light with your right foot, but it lacks the edge to provide genuine hot hatch thrills.
We’d skip the 190hp and 245hp 2.0-litre models and head straight for the 300hp range-topper, which gets from 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds, has a top speed of 155mph and feels like it could keep up with almost any car on a tight twisting B road. Even its fuel economy – around 35mpg in a mixture of driving – doesn’t seem too bad given the performance.
Naturally, the hybrid model is the thriftiest of all. Its ability to travel up to 36 miles on electricity alone could save you a fortune if you have a short commute and somewhere to charge the car.
It allows the Leon to return full economy of more than 200mpg, although this will drop rapidly when the battery runs out of juice. Unfortunately, the PHEV's dithering responses mean it doesn’t drive like a hot hatch should, even if it can get from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds.
The Cupra Leon scored five stars for safety when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2020. Standard safety kit includes automatic emergency brakes – can detect vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians – and lane assist that can gently steer the car in lane. Specify the optional Safety and Driving pack and you can add kit like auto-dipping headlights, active cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and Emergency Assist that can steer you around imminent accidents there’s no space to stop for. All models also come as standard with an alarm with an interior and tow-away sensor.
The Cupra Leon is based on the SEAT Leon which tends to finish mid-table in customer satisfaction surveys. It’s been subject to various recalls that cover things like the rear suspension, seat belts, hybrid power systems and wiring harness, so it’s worth checking these have been sorted free of charge on any second-hand car you’re looking at. Cupra Leons come as standard with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty.
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.