Enjoyable to drive, well-equipped and easy to live with on a daily basis – the Cupra Leon is an appealing hot hatch.

For many years, the Seat Leon Cupra had been a familiar friend for those who craved a little extra power and, perhaps, a more economical way to enjoy the engine and running gear you get on a Golf GTI.

Such was its success that the Spanish manufacturer’s fast badge – Cupra – has been widened out to form a whole sub-brand, with the new marque emerging in 2018 for Seat’s sporty models.

As you’d have hoped, the Cupra Leon is a force to be reckoned with, offering swift acceleration, excellent handling and a stylish contemporary look - all for a price that doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Various engines are available, all mated to a 7-speed DSG twin clutch auto paddleshift gearbox, while customers can also choose between a hatchback or an estate body style. The DSG box is slick-shifting enough, but it might have been nice if a manual option had been available on a drivers' car.

There’s a 1.4-litre turbo petrol plug-in hybrid producing 245hp, the normal 2.0-litre turbo petrol, which also has 245hp, or there’s the ‘300 version’, also powered by a 2.0-litre engine but upgraded to 300hp.

Here, we tested the hatch powered by the conventional 2.0 TSI petrol turbo unit – and found it to be fun to drive yet easy to live with.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Cupra Leon on test during stormy conditions

The 0-62mph time of 6.4 seconds felt swift, although not blisteringly fast. Perhaps more impressive was the car’s handling and road-hugging qualities.

The car sits on lower suspension, being 25mm lower at the front and 20mm lower at the back when compared to the normal Seat Leon.

A number of significant and highly-effective chassis upgrades have been carried out, with spring rates being stiffer to reduce body roll, adaptive dampers being fitted as standard, and upgrades to the brakes. There’s also an electronically-controlled limited slip differential on the front axle to help the power go to the front wheels when emerging from corners at pace.

With quick and accurate steering thrown into the mix, it all adds up to a vehicle that inspires confidence in terms of its handling.

Despite being on the firm side, as you’d expect from a performance car, the suspension also does a good job of easing out the worst road perfections, meaning it’s a pleasant car for everyday use.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Cupra Leon on test during stormy conditions

In terms of looks, the Cupra Leon has a more muscular and dynamic appearance than its stablemates.

At the front, you’ll find a more aggressive pointed grille and lower bumper, with a heavily sculpted bonnet also catching the eye.

The LED headlights with dynamic turn signals are another nice touch.

Compared to the normal Leon, there’s a bigger roof spoiler, sportier rear bumper with a rear diffuser that improves the aerodynamics and quad tailpipes.

The finishing touches include the 18” Machined sport black and silver alloy wheels, black window surrounds and privacy glass.

The interior is a nice place to be, with features such as the leather sports steering wheel, sporty seats and aluminium pedals distinguishing it from more mundane vehicles.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Cupra Leon on test during stormy conditions

The driver sits at the heart of a digital cockpit, with easy access to Full Link smartphone integration (Mirror Link, Wireless Apple Media System Plus) with navigation, 10-inch smart touch display, DAB and AM/FM radio, Bluetooth audio streaming and handsfree system.

The seats are comfortable but supportive, with banked bits on the side to stop you sliding when cornering briskly.

Meanwhile, ambient lighting creates a nice effect, while the heated steering wheel came in handy in the recent wintry conditions.

The entry level model costs £31,950 – which is notably cheaper than the Golf GTI and some other key rivals.

In conclusion, it's a good all-rounder for those who want a dollop of style, a sporty drive and some everyday practicality at the right kind of price.

The Lowdown

Cupra Leon hatch VZ1


TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic

Fuel economy: 37.2 - 39.2mpg

CO2 (WLTP) 162 g/km

0-62 MPH: 6.4 secs

TOP SPEED: 155mph