Cupra Leon Estate review
The Cupra Leon Estate comes with a big, practical boot; four-wheel-drive traction; and a powerful petrol model. It sounds like a fantastic hot-hatch recipe, but it’s not as thrilling to drive as some alternatives
What's not so good
Find out more about the Cupra Leon Estate
The Cupra Leon Estate is the sort of car you might buy if you’re after a fast hot hatchback with an eye-catching design, and you regularly have to transport a load of stuff from one place to another.
It goes up against the likes of the Skoda Octavia vRS Estate and the soon-to-be-released Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Both of those cars are closely related to this high-performance Leon, but you might find the Cupra’s dashing styling to be more to your tastes than those two more understated alternatives.
As with the standard Cupra Leon hatchback, it sits lower to the ground than the regular Seat Leon Estate, and comes packed with performance-orientated styling tweaks to help it stand out. This includes 19-inch alloy wheels, striking copper-coloured badging and trim pieces, and a more aggressive body kit.
Visually speaking, the biggest difference is – rather obviously – the fact that this estate version has a much longer boot than the hatchback. There’s a mighty 620 litres of storage capacity back here, which is more than the new Golf R Estate but slightly less than you get in the cavernous Octavia vRS Estate.
Still, the Cupra’s load bay is accessed via a large opening and (on range-topping VZ3 models) a hands-free tailgate. And because the boot floor practically sits flush with the opening, getting bulky, heavy items in there is an easy-enough undertaking.
The rest of the cabin is much as it is on the Cupra Leon hatchback, so you get some sporty-looking aluminium pedals, more copper-coloured interior trim, chunky bucket seats and a swish-looking 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
That multimedia suite might look great, but in reality it’s a bit clunky in its operation. It can take an age to boot up, and navigating your way through its myriad submenus takes some getting used to. It also has a tendency to throw a tantrum when you try to hook up Apple CarPlay too. The touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel don’t seem to work all that well, either, and there’s no physical buttons for the climate control
But otherwise, the Cupra’s cabin balances sporty looks with practical comfort very well. There’s decent space in the back for adult passengers, and a number of handy storage cubbies too.
If you want sleek looks and superb running costs, the plug-in hybrid isn’t a bad shout. But the 4WD, 310hp version is the better hot hatch - if not the best hot hatch of all time.
Aside from the bigger boot, there are a couple of other other big differences between the Cupra Leon Estate and the hatchback version. This is chiefly to do with the engines on offer.
The hatchback can be had with a 245hp or a 300hp petrol engine, or with a 245hp plug-in hybrid petrol powertrain. All of these versions are front-wheel drive. The Estate, on the other hand, can be had with the same 245hp hybrid set-up; or you can get an even more powerful 310hp petrol engine with four-wheel drive.
We drove the latter, and boy, is it quick. Put your foot down and it accelerates with a huge amount of enthusiasm, and its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission makes smooth, swift work of changing gears too. It even sounds good thanks to some meaty – albeit synthetic – engine noises being piped into the cabin via the car’s sound system.
Pop the car into its sportiest settings and you’ll find it makes easy work of a slippery back road too, thanks to plenty of grip and quick, accurate steering. But there’s something a bit remote about the way it changes direction, and as a result you might find the likes of a Ford Focus ST Estate to be more fun.
Still, it’s comfy enough around town, and with good visibility and a standard-fit rear-view camera it’s a breeze to park. Make no mistake, this would be a very easy, very practical hot hatchback to live with – just not one of the most fun.
But if you appreciate a slightly more sensible approach, and want the security of four-wheel-drive with the flexibility that massive boot brings, then the Cupra Leon Estate might well be up your street.
Prices start from £36,300 for the Hybrid and rise to just over £40,000 for the 310hp version. But if you head on over to our Cupra deals page, you can see how much you can save through carwow.
Build your own Leon Estate on carwow
Save on average £394 off RRP
*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.