Is the Leon Sportstourer e-Hybrid a true Cupra?

At least it looks like one!

1w ago
36.9K

Nobody really understood why Cupra departed from Seat and became an independent brand in 2018. But that's the way it is and now this brand that was once focusing solely on high-performance cars also develops plug-in hybrids. Apart from cars like the Porsche 918 Spyder, manufacturers sometimes struggle to produce compelling sports cars out of those and that is mainly because the technology is heavy and complex. However, the young Cupra brand and their new vision think they have found the answer by making a car that sounds uncompromising on paper. So, have they done it?

It's based on the Leon, or in our press car's case the Leon Sportstourer. If you've forgotten what a Leon is well it is basically Seat's take on the iconic Golf. With some tweaks of their own they managed to make it sportier and cheaper. It first came out in 1999 and the fourth and latest generation was just introduced last year in 2020. Seat has updated its Leon with a fresh new design that looks sharper than ever, plus it has more engines, and technology on board. Therefore, the Leon seems like a good base to Cupra things up!

The Cupra Leon is available as an estate or hatchback and the design doesn't fundamentally change from the regular Seat. Yes, you get fancier colours (Graphene Grey on our press car), bigger wheels, sportier bumpers and skirts, black accents, and copper details to remind the logo's colours on the rims and the exhaust tips... which are fake by the way. This trend must stop because even though our Leon was "only" the 245 PS model, I believe anyone would rather have no exhaust tips visible instead. Apart from that, I must say that it's a very good-looking car and the sporty theme going on here brings even more spiciness to the sharp design.

the Leon seems like a good base to Cupra things up!

Jonathan Yarden

You jump inside and it's pretty much Leon but with more drama. By that I mean that you get sportier seats, a specific steering wheel that incorporates the start/stop button, as well as copper and aluminum details. Cupra has included an LED bar just under the windshield, just like in the VW ID.3, and it does not only look cool but it will also change colours if the car detects hazards on the road to capture your attention. There are other details which are unmistakably Volkswagen like the mini "gear lever" that was borrowed from the Golf, and that's obviously not a problem since Cupra really managed to make this interior their very own. On the tech side, I must say that everything works really well and the software issues related to the infotainment that we experienced with recent VWs does not seem to apply in the Leon's case. Every screen is sharp and responsive, from the digital cockpit to the center console one yet, you still have to get inside submenus to get rid of the driving safety assistants that switch on every time you get in the car, and that's a real hustle. All in all, it's a nice cabin to sit in and it has the merit not to feel dull. There are many elements and details that are proper to Cupra, and in general the cabin is well-built, with some materials that feel upscale. You have got obviously all the latest safety features and the tech is up to modern standards with built-in apps like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Plus, if you pick the estate over the hatchback, you get an extra 30 litres of practical boot space which is not insignificant if you have a family or if you just like to carry stuff around.

If the interior looks and feels rather sporty, it's another story with the driving. Yes, you can opt for the 310 horsepower engine borrowed from the VW Golf R, but our press car had the 1.4 4-cylinder hybrid engine that makes 245 horsepower. Even though it doesn't sound that bad, this particular Cupra Leon felt slow, very slow, especially when that battery is drained out. It takes 7 seconds to go from 0 to 100 km/h, and it will eventually hit a top speed of 225 km/h. It's not that bad but the Leon plays deep engine noise through the speakers, and they sound so fake that it destroys the entire experience. Other manufacturers do it with their performance cars (ex. the BMW M5), but here it just sounds very wrong. I don't really know how it is with the more powerful engines, but this e-hybrid Leon lures you into thinking that this will be a fun and sporty ride, but it's actually not. Bear with me, it's a very comfortable car that will do everything you expect from a family car, but it's definitely not what it looks like. This is a car that will rather be on the highway than on twisty roads. On the other hand, the battery clearly helps to bring fuel consumption down (you can expect around 4.0l/100 km in real life) and you can drive up to 59 km in full electric.

All in all, I believe that the Cupra Leon Sportstourer e-Hybrid is a very good car and I enjoyed very much living with it for a little while. It's decently priced (CHF 56'437.-/£45'172 for our very well equipped press car) and feels more special than any other regular Leon. The only problem that I have with it is the fact that Cupra desperately tried to disguise this comfortable family car into something sporty. Yes, the looks are really out there and they went through a lot to make you believe that it will be a driver's car, like the Golf R Variant. The only outcome can only be a slight disappointment. Yes, I ought to try a more powerful version, but so far it is just all show and no go. I like a car that is honest and we all know that Cupra have the knowledge to develop a proper sports car that can put a smile on your face, but in the Leon Sportstourer e-Hybrid case... it's a miss.

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Cupra Switzerland for allowing us to discover the new Leon Sportstourer e-Hybrid. Without them, this article would have never been possible. It was the first time we ever worked with them and it has been an absolute pleasure. We cannot wait to collaborate more with them in the future.

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Comments (22)

  • No. Plain and Simple. This hybrid absolutely does not work when driven hard - and that you get out of the battery sooner or later and then you have to rely just on 1,4 TSI in quite heavy car is not the biggest problem. It is very heavy on front, the handling is very compromised by all the hybrid setup, the brakes are totally terrible when mixing deccelerating by brakes and by electric engine very chaotically (and the second part sometiomes gives up just because with no warning). It is very ineffiecient, slow on top speed, it really gives you nothing pleasang.

    It is one of the biggest disappointment I have driven this year. There is absolutely - ABSOLUTELY - nothing more it may give you over 2,0 TSI. "Standard" Cupra is awesome car, 10 times better than e-hybrid. This is just a piece of compliance shit.

      8 days ago
  • I don't want to hate on it but it's not my Cup-r-a tea ...

      3 days ago
  • A true Cupra? Are they even true SEATs to start with?

      8 days ago
    • It’s true there are VW parts under there but that’s the power of synergies. Still, Seat has managed to give their cars their very own personalities

        8 days ago
    • I'll admit I never felt the differences between VW/Audi/SEAT/Skoda to be much more than superficial. I did fear Cupra might be just take sales away from other SEATs.

        8 days ago
  • Nope, just badge engineering.

    Same goes for all Cupras, Seats, Skodas etc.

      8 days ago
    • I mean I’d like to have a go in a Formentor VZ5 equipped with the RS3’s five banger! That must be something

        8 days ago
    • Give them a few weeks & they'll make it.

        8 days ago
  • hmmm how about a corrola wagon hybrid 😂

      8 days ago
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