SEAT Leon Cupra ST review

The Leon Cupra ST is a 300hp performance estate car that rivals the VW Golf R estate, Ford Focus ST Estate and Skoda Octavia vRS estate. If you don’t need the extra boot space the estate version offers then it’s also available as the three-door Leon Cupra SC and the five-door Leon Cupra.

Buy or lease the SEAT Leon Cupra ST at a price you’ll love
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RRP £30,980 - £38,390
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wowscore
7/10
This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Big boot
  • Super-fast 4x4 option
  • Generously equipped

What's not so good

  • Interior could look sportier
  • Civic Type R has more character
  • It's not the bargain it used to be

Find out more about the SEAT Leon Cupra ST

Is the SEAT Leon Cupra ST a good car?

The Leon Cupra ST’s main selling point is its combination of family car practicality and impressive load capacity with a powerful 300hp engine and – from 2017 onward – a four-wheel-drive system that helps it get from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds. This is one seriously fast car and it also handles impressively for a hot hatch – in fact, it’s easy to forget you’re driving an estate car at all as you tackle your favourite twisty road taking advantage of the car’s impressive grip.

Inside, the Leon Cupra ST is well built from high-quality soft-touch plastics, although there’s not as much colour or style as you’d expect from the Spanish brand. A 2017 update to the car added an eight-inch infotainment screen with an optional wireless phone-charging pad on the centre console. You can tell the Cupra apart from the standard Leon ST estate by way of aluminium pedals, a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel and racier seats that hug you tight in the corners.

Standard kit on all Cupra ST models includes bright LED headlights, the eight-inch infotainment screen with built-in sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems as well as dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

Get a four-wheel-drive Leon Cupra ST and it'll beat most cars away from the traffic lights

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

Overall, the Cupra ST is a real jack-of-all-trades car. It’s incredibly quick and, if you pick the optional four-wheel-drive system, you can power out of rain-lashed hairpin bends faster than many cars on sale. It doesn’t feel as overtly sporty as hot hatch rivals such as the Ford Focus RS or Honda Civic Type R – but its comfortable ride means it’s not as jarring as those cars in day-to-day use.

The interior and infotainment system are up there with the best in class, but an Audi S3 would be the better (if slightly more expensive) choice if you demand a properly premium interior – and are willing to sacrifice a little practicality. That makes the Leon Cupra ST a niche car that excels in almost every area – and it’s certainly worth bearing in mind if you want a fast family estate car.

For more information on the Seat Leon Cupra ST, read the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review over the following pages. And, if you want to see what sort of offers are available on the Leon Cupra ST, visit our deals page.

How practical is it?

The Seat Leon Cupra ST is a car that can take a family – and take them quickly – but if you want a really big, quick estate, go for the Skoda Octavia vRS

Got an express delivery to make? The Leon Cupra ST doesn't just pack a punch, it can pack a whole load of stuff into the boot as well

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
587 litres
Boot (seats down)
1,470 litres

The Leon Cupra ST has a longer wheelbase than the three-door model, so there’s more legroom for rear passengers. The flatter estate roofline also means rear-seat passengers won’t struggle for headroom either, and if you’re after a car than can comfortably carry a family of four for long journeys at great speed then, well, this is certainly that.

The driver and front-seat passenger are treated to sporty part-Alcantara suede seats that are very comfortable, and you can upgrade these to full-leather items for £1,370 – switching to these leather seats also adds heated front seats, headlight washers and heated windscreen washer nozzles. Who knew?

If you’re planning on taking your fast family estate on a racetrack (and having tried it we can thoroughly recommend it) then it’s worth considering the £1,290 heated bucket seats which hug you tighter than the regular seats and will keep you well in place in fast corners. The only downside is that these are partly trimmed in a carbon-fibre effect leather material, which does look a bit boy racer.

The Leon Cupra ST has two cupholders in the front centre console, a rubberised phone holder in front of the gearstick (this is where the wireless charging pad goes if you pay for it), and the front door bins can each hold a big bottle of water.

The Leon Cupra ST’s boot is very big, but is a useful shape and has an under-boot storage area. The capacity with the seats up is 587 litres compared to the three-door or five-door 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. Specifying the four-wheel-drive system doesn’t reduce boot space either, as it can on some cars.

What's it like to drive?

This is a family estate car that doesn’t feel at odds on a racetrack. On a twisty B-road it’s incredibly fast, grippy and dares you to drive like a lunatic. Despite all this it won’t drive you mad on long journeys.

The Leon Cupra ST bridges the gap between family car and hot hatch so well you’ll forget there’s a massive boot on the back of it

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

There’s only one engine choice in the Leon Cupra ST and it’s a good ‘un – a 300hp four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. You can have it with front-wheel drive, in which case you can have a manual or DSG auto gearbox, or four-wheel-drive, in which case you have to have the auto. Stick to just two driven wheels and it’ll get from 0 to 62mph in 6.0 seconds (that’s 0.3 seconds slower than the three-door Leon Cupra and 0.2 behind the five-door). Opt for the four-wheel-drive system and that drops to an impressive 4.9 seconds. All Leon Cupras have a top speed of 155mph, in case you were wondering.

The price for all this hooning about is 40.4mpg on the front-wheel-drive model, and 39.2mpg on the four-wheel-drive version. We averaged about 32mpg in real-world conditions in both models, however. You’re looking at CO2 emissions of 161g/km for the front-wheel-drive model and 164g/km if you go for the four-wheel-drive, making for an annual road tax bill of £185 for either model.

This is a family estate car that doesn’t feel at odds on a racetrack. On a twisty B-road it’s incredibly fast, grippy and dares you to drive like a lunatic. Despite all this it won’t drive you mad on long journeys.

The biggest compliment you can pay the Leon Cupra ST’s driving ability is that it feels just like the hatchback version, which is one of the best-handling hot hatches on sale. The Cupra’s real trick, however, is by including adaptive dampers as standard which let you change the ride between comfortable and sporty at the push of a button. By doing so you can set the car up for a smooth, unruffled motorway jaunt with the kids in the back and a boot full of luggage, then stick the drive mode in ‘Cupra’ for the last twisty miles to the hotel.

There’s plenty of grip from the front tyres as you turn in to a corner at speed, and even the front-wheel-drive models get a mechanical limited-slip differential that allows both wheels to pull the car out of the turn without spinning. 

The four-wheel drive version allows for even more power to punt you out of slippery bends. The Leon Cupra ST does all this without any drama – unlike a Civic Type R, for example, which will have the steering wheel bucking in your hands on bumpy roads as you accelerate. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing for the Leon is up to you – but now it’s available with four-wheel drive it’s certainly a very fast car even in wet conditions.

What's it like inside?

The Leon Cupra ST’s interior isn’t exciting to look at, but it’s well made and has all the tech you need.

Next Read full interior review
Buy or lease the SEAT Leon Cupra ST at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £30,980 - £38,390
carwow price from
Used
£21,995
Ready to see prices tailored to you?
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