Pros: sporty looking, great to drive, low tax
Cons: powertrain lacks personality
The SEAT Leon Cupra is dead. Long live the Cupra Leon. Eh? What? Well, now that the Cupra brand has split from its parent, it’s rolling out its own range of cars, and among them is the new Cupra Leon. This isn’t drastically different to the SEAT Leon at first glance, though it would appear that the Cupra model will get all the high-performance options. First to arrive in Ireland, however, is the e-Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid version.
Cupra Leon e-Hybrid Design
While Cupra hasn’t altered the sheet metal of the Leon to create its own car, there are plenty of other differences to help set it apart. Its paint colour palette, for example, is more daring, while the standard specification even includes a set of distinctly sporty 19-inch alloy wheels. Complementing those is a Cupra-specific front grille mesh, within which you’ll find the sharp new Cupra logo. There’s another one of those on the back, below the Leon’s attractive ‘coast-to-coast’ LED light bar and, if specified, copper accents in lieu of actual exhaust outlets.
Cupra Leon e-Hybrid Interior
Inside, the Cupra Leon is very well specified, with sporty bucket seats and a unique steering wheel bearing the distinctive Cupra logo. Copper accents are tastefully applied, extending to contrast stitching in places. That all lifts the otherwise standard Leon cabin, which is well put together and features a few unique items, such as the latest Volkswagen Group touchscreen infotainment and the rather odd-looking gear selector between the front seats.
Cupra Leon e-Hybrid Performance & Drive
Power for the e-Hybrid model comes from a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and an electric motor. Combined, they produce up to 245hp and 400Nm of torque, which are ample figures by any measure. Choose the Cupra driving mode and this car leaves you in no doubt that it’s producing such numbers, with crisp response to the throttle and an official 0-100km/h time of 6.7 seconds. The underwhelming sound of the engine is augmented digitally to give the Cupra Leon a more sporting voice, though some won’t like that it’s fake. It can be switched off in the Individual setting, thankfully, which also allows customisation of the standard adaptive damping system. It’s all very impressive, especially as there’s an electric-only range of about 60km, too. Shame, though, that it’s never quite as exciting to drive as a traditional hot hatch.
Cupra Leon e-Hybrid Pricing
Including incentives, the Cupra Leon e-Hybrid starts at €41,210, and it’s available as an estate, too, for €42,060. The standard specification is generous, so say the least, which helps offset that high price. If you like the look of the Cupra Leon, but don’t fancy a plug-in hybrid, there are pure petrol alternatives, too, with 245hp or 300hp engines, or up to 310hp if you go for the four-wheel-drive version of the estate. That costs nearly €60,000, however.
Carzone Verdict: 4/5
Whether there’s room for yet another standalone brand in the sprawling Volkswagen Group is a moot point now, as the Cupra range expands. Its take on the Leon does enough to distance itself from the SEAT alternative to justify its existence, though the extrovert image may not be for everyone. Still, the e-Hybrid variant offers the best of both worlds in terms of efficiency and performance.