£28,000 - £31,000 Price range
The SEAT Leon Cupra ST is the estate version of the Leon Cupra and it comes with increased practicality without sacrificing performance. Its rivals are the estate versions of the Ford Focus ST, Skoda Octavia vRS and the Volkswagen Golf R.
The Leon Cupra ST interior is very similar to that of the regular Leon ST except for some gloss black plastic and perforated aluminium pedals. Build quality is up there with the best in class and passenger space is plenty. The boot is not only big, but also versatile.
Driving the Leon Cupra ST is nothing spectacular, but the pace is impressive. Thanks to clever stability control the SEAT has huge reserves of grip and goes around corners fast without much fuss. It’s not as fun as a Focus ST, but it’s equally capable and accelerates faster.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine powering the Leon Cupra ST is one of its main selling points. It packs 290hp and is very responsive and devout of turbo lag. Both the manual and the automatic gearbox are good choices and it will be up to personal preference which one you go for.
Sitting at the top of the Leon ST range, the Cupra ST gets plenty of equipment as standard such as climate and cruise control as well as very supportive alcantara trimmed sport seats and striking 19-inch alloy wheels with red Brembo brake callipers.
SEAT’s revealed an updated model for 2017 with both more power and a range of upgraded equipment. Read our dedicated Leon Cupra ST guide for full details.
The regular Leon cabin is well made and there are soft to the touch materials in all the key areas. The buttons are logically arranged and easy to learn, although the standard infotainment feels a bit unresponsive. All this is great for a family hatchback, but the Cupra is supposed to be the most lively and outrageous version of the Leon, yet it’s hardly any different inside.
The sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel and some aluminium trim pieces are just about the only things that mark out the interior of the most expensive Leon ST. Don’t get us wrong – it’s a great interior, but it’s just missing a bit of colour.
SEAT Leon Cupra ST passenger space
The estate has a longer wheelbase than the three door Leon Cupra SC and this translates to more passenger room. The Leon has never felt cramped inside, but an increase in leg room is always welcome. A family of four will have no problem traveling long distances with plenty of luggage and the back seat passengers won’t feel as claustrophobic as in the three-door Leon SC.
The steering wheel has plenty of adjustment while the seats are comfortable on long journeys and supportive in fast corners. For a small premium you can get even sportier bucket leather seats.
SEAT Leon Cupra ST boot space
The Leon Cupra ST not only comes with a big boot, but also it’s in a usable shape and has a storage area under the floor making it quite versatile, too. The capacity with the seats up is 587 litres compared to the hatch’s 387 litres. Pull a lever and the spring-loaded seat backs fold down to open up 1,470 litres of space. That is an impressive amount of space, but the Skoda Octavia vRS estate is even more capacious – 610-1,740 litres.
The regular Leon ST gets plenty of positive reviews from testers and they are generally pleased by the way it drives – confidence inspiring handling with plenty of grip from the clever XDS+ front differential that sends power to the wheel that most needs it. The Cupra follows in the same footsteps but amps up the speed at which everything happens. It’s no Ford Focus ST in terms of fun and agility, but will get you to your destination very quickly.
The Leon ST Cupra benefits from standard adaptive dampers that have several modes of operation – Comfort, Normal, Cupra and Individual. Even in the most sporty Cupra mode the ride isn’t uncomfortable.
290hp is the big number here. That is not quite as much as the 300hp of the Golf R, but is enough to make the Leon Cupra ST accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds. That means the Focus ST estate will be left behind in a drag race. If motorway blasts are more your thing the engine is very flexible and pulls strong in any gear from very low in the rev range.
There is a choice between a six-speed manual and a DSG automatic transmission that also has six gears. Reviewers are split about which one to recommend, because they are both equally good. Pick the manual if you want more engagement or the auto if you want effortless driving and lightning fast gearshifts.
When crash tested by Euro NCAP the regular Leon got the full five-star safety score. It almost scored the maximum amount in passenger and child occupant protection so it should be very safe. Neither the estate version nor the Cupra have been crash tested, but should be equally safe. Thanks to better brakes the Cupra will also stop quicker.
There’s also plenty of optional passive and active safety assists like blind spot alert and adaptive cruise control to help prevent collisions.
Costing nearly £30k means the Cupra ST gets plenty of kit as standard – a 5.8-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation, front and rear parking sensors, climate control with two temperature zones, tinted windows and also a six-speaker stereo with DAB digital radio as well as Bluetooth phone connection. The standard infotainment feels a bit dated and is slow to respond, so for £680 you can get the Navigation System High that is up to date with what the rivals offer and comes with a bigger 6.5-inch touchscreen, too.
SEAT Leon Cupra ST Sub8 pack
The Leon Cupra ST has many customisation and personalisation options but the most recommended is the Sub8 performance package that comes in two stages. Stage one comes with bigger Brembo brakes, larger side skirts as well as orange motifs on the bodywork and will cost £1,720 extra. Stage two of the pack adds grippier Michelin tyres for a bit more.
A 290hp family estate is quite a niche car and as a result needs to be very special to steer family estate buyers from the more frugal and cheaper diesel versions. The Leon Cupra ST feels more expensive and premium than the Ford Focus ST estate, but also costs a fair bit more. It’s more fun than a Skoda Octavia vRS estate, but less spacious. It costs less than the Golf R, but doesn’t get it’s four-wheel drive system. So it all boils down to how much money you’re willing to spend. We’d go for the marginally dearer, but more accomplished VW Golf R.