Cupra Leon Estate long term test: report 1

Our chief photographer needs a practical car that can cope with heavy lifting during the week, but knows how to have fun after working hours. Does the Cupra Leon Estate deliver?...

2023 Cupra Leon Estate Long Term left panning

The car Cupra Leon Estate 2.0TSI 4Drive 310 DSG Run by John Bradshaw, chief photographer

Why it’s here To see if this sporty family estate can cut it as a workhorse from Monday to Friday and an entertainer at the weekend.

Needs to Be fun on the right road, while carrying heavy, bulky camera equipment all over the country in comfort and safety.

Mileage 173 List price £42.185 Target Price £41,363 Price as tested £43,710 Test economy 34.8mpg Official economy 35.8mpg Options fitted metallic Nevada White paint (£595)

22 June 2023 – Estate of the art

Increasingly, SUVs are becoming the default choice when it comes to practical family transportation, but what of the humble estate car? Well, I reckon the Cupra Leon Estate parked outside my house ought to prove just what an overlooked sector of the market such cars occupy these days, and I’m expecting it to do so with flair and excitement.

Putting the Cupra bit aside, the regular Seat Leon Estate is the most practical version of one of our favourite family cars; a machine that’s fantastic fun to drive, comfy and spacious inside, and available with a range of engines to suit every taste and budget. The estate version has all the Leon hatchback's virtues and adds an aircraft hangar’s worth of luggage space. And when Cupra – Seat’s high-performance sister-brand – gets its hands on it, things get really interesting.

Cupra Leon Estate LT front cornering

Driving excitement is high my list of requirements when looking out for a new car, but that quality is quite rare in cars with the kind of huge, versatile boot that I need for my day job; as What Car?’s chief photographer, I can be called upon for photo sessions anywhere in the country at the drop of a hat, and all my cameras, tripods and lighting gear needs to go with me. Fortunately, then, the Cupra Leon Estate has a huge 620-litre boot – more than a lot of Family SUVs can offer, including the BMW X1 I ran previously.

And the X1 doesn’t get close to the kind of power the Cupra Leon has at its disposal. It’s powered by the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as the Volkswagen Golf R hot hatch, which – in its estate form – is my car’s closest rival. Performance? Yes, plenty; 0-62mph officially takes just 4.9 sec in the Cupra Leon, and I don’t see any reason to dispute that figure. 

My car is a VZ2 model, whose metallic Nevada White paint (£595) is the only option fitted and brings the on-the-road price to £43,710. Truth is, I don’t think it really needs any more options; VZ2 trim comes with no end of bells and whistles. Outside, it sits on smart 19in machined alloy wheels, there are powerful LED headlamps and scrolling LED turn signals, and all but the front windows sport privacy glass.

2023 Cupra Leon Estate Long Term steering wheel detail

Inside, meanwhile, there’s a 12.0in touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration (wireless for the latter), complimented by a digital instrument display that can be configured in a number of ways. Multi-coloured ambient interior lighting adds atmosphere after dark, and the heavily bolstered sports front seats are paired with a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel. The whole interior is set off by chrome and copper detailing that further distance it from the regular Leon Estate visually.

It also features Cupra’s Driving and Safety Pack XL, which includes traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring and even a system that issues a warning if you’re about to open a door into the path of approaching traffic. All of this should make long motorway trips a breeze, as should the knowledge that all that power is in reserve when I need it.

I’m aware that there might be compromises, though; the Cupra Leon Estate has space and pace in abundance, but I'll excuse its sporty set-up impeding grace a little when urban potholes are encountered, within reason. I’m not expecting it to be exactly economical, either, although its official fuel consumption figure of 35.8mpg is actually pretty respectable for a car with this much power, and the 34.8mpg I’ve averaged so far is creditably close to that figure.

2023 Long Term Cupra Leon estate hello rear

I’m expecting the Cupra Leon Estate to have just the split personality I’m hoping for: uncomplaining servant from Monday through Friday, and fun-loving companion at the weekend. I already have an inkling it’ll prove that SUVs ought not to be every family’s default choice.

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