Cupra Leon Estate long term test: report 5

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?...

Long term Cupra Leon photo platform

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 5720 List price £42,185 Target Price £38,863 Price as tested £43,710 Test economy 34.4mpg Official economy 35.8mpg 

1 September 2023 – focussing on ride height

Having run a succession of SUVs as company cars, I'd rather gotten used to them. So, while it was me who picked out my Cupra Leon estate as my next car, there was still some slight trepidation. Would it offer the practicality and comfort I'd become used to?

Fortunately, the Leon has proven remarkably easy to adjust to. For one thing, its driving position isn’t so low-slung as to disappoint after the raised perch a typical SUV offers. In fact, the act of getting in and settling behind the Leon's wheel is so natural as to require absolutely no thought; there’s no climbing up or stooping down, I simply stride up to the car and step aboard.

Long Term Cupra Leon driving position

I do enjoy the upright posture that SUVs tend to promote; the driving seat of my previous BMW X1 was like a (very comfy) dining room chair. In the Leon, it feels like I’ve left the dinner table and taken a living room recliner while I wait for the coffee and mints, yet it supports me well enough to avoid slouching – a boon for long-distance comfort.

I’ve previously mentioned that the Leon Estate is at least the equal of many an SUV when it comes to carrying my clutter around, but my work as What Car?’s chief photographer has exposed a talent that none of them can compete with. When the Leon's huge boot is empty, the floor is long and flat enough for me to lay horizontally, and it being so close to the ground puts me at just the right altitude to point my camera rearwards to capture low-level tracking shots of cars following behind. 

On these occasions, of course, I always wear a harness for safety, but while some cars require a certain amount of dangling out the back if I’m to get the shots I need, life is much easier in the Leon. Plus, its ride isn’t so firm that every photo ends up blurred, and the grunt of the Leon’s 304bhp engine combines with its quick-reacting automatic gearbox to ensure I can bag a decent sequence of overtaking shots with no danger of running out of runway.

I admit that “Best photographic platform” is too niche a category to feature in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards, but the Leon Estate gets my vote nevertheless.

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