Cupra Leon V Sportstourer review: a kinda fast & frugal wagon

Dean Evans, Editor
  • Sign in required

    Please sign in to your account to add a vehicle to favourite

  • Share this article

Cupra Leon, it's sports and a tourer

  • Feels faster than its numbers
  • Impressivly economical
  • Speedwagon looks and practicality
  • Temperamental CarPlay
  • Dual-clutch gearbox foibles
  • Radar cruise thinks it knows better

Almost anything with sports in its name has to be good, at least that's my hope, as I'm handed the keys to the Cupra Leon Sportstourer. That it's a wagon already means it starts off with a cool baseline, and Cupra's range has been boosted by some new models lately, especially the awesome Formentor.

But we're down a peg in the model range for this, and the entry level version in the three-model Leon line-up of the Sportstourer, the V (under hybrid and VZ), starts at $49,990 and sits in the rebate-neutral zone, so that's the drive-away price.

It's actually a mild hybrid, so there is a small battery and motor there, but you'd never know, as it never makes itself known either, via badgework or a stand-alone EV mode. It's all rather hush-hush in regards to its green-bragging, but that's a good thing as a mild hybrid offers two key benefits of boosting power and saving fuel, without being overtly look-at-how-eco-I-am.

Eyebrows were certainly raised after the first few hours in the Leon V: it's not short on speed: the claim to 100km/h is a modest 8.9 seconds, but it feels faster. Then after 200km of motorway driving, the fuel figure on the dash was just 5.7l/100km, bang on its combined claim and highlighted by its 700km+ range from a full tank. That's a win-win already.

And impressive. Most impressive for an engine that... hmm, must be around 1.6-1.8 litres at first blind-thought. That's what it feel like, proving the worth of the mild hybrid, that it's just a modest 1.5-litre four-cylinder pushing out even more modest figures of 110kW/250Nm. Maybe it's the 1410kg, but it just seems to perform better than its on-paper numbers suggest.

While the engine is willing, the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox is sometimes weak. Quick through the gears, it's slow to respond especially from standstill. We found it's better to tap it into Sport mode, which makes it more reactive without killing economy. Still not perfect, but better.

At 4.65 metres, it's a deceptively large car: 15cm longer than a Subaru Crosstek. The interior is modern and techy and a lot like its bigger brother Formentor - though with the base model V, it's more a case of what you don't get - like a wireless phone charger, a $450 option on the V.

However, it’s all Cupra cool with copper accents and faux carbon fiber textures on the steering wheel and some leathery fabric seats. Just like the Formentor, we tested recently, there is no external model badging on Cupras, making it a little hard to identify models, surely an issue for public traffic visual sales pitches alone. Come on Cupra, just state your family member's name.

The dash is configurable across a handful of screens between simple, navigation, conventional, classic or modern presets. There's radar cruise control, manual seats, and a start button, plus a lot of practical storage and trays and USB-C ports, and the same trapezoid exterior mirrors that mimic the copper framed air vents.

Being a tourer, you'd expect the boot to be huge... and it is, but isn't. It's spacious without being oversized, and with a false floor that rises or lowers, offering between 579 and 1159 litres of space, depending on the boot and seat layout. Which is really quite large. Plus there's a space saver spare.

Mood lighting strips are also a nice touch, which are active, changing colour to red, for example, when the car senses impending danger.

Though maybe the Leon ST is a little too eager to control sometimes, as the active cruise control works great, but sometimes senses cars in other lanes it thinks you're about to hit: on the motorway, it's rather anti-NZ driver habits, and when sitting on the speed limit, it refuses to undertake slower-moving cars who (habitually) will sit in the fast lane, easing off the throttle and not passing until the driver overrides - and even when overtaking conventionally, on the right, the system senses the car and refuses the pass.

Apple CarPlay also had moments of technical glitches, even when the car was rebooted and restarted, refusing to play podcasts for more than half-a-second at times, mysteriously fixing itself.
There are options, but this is good for being able to individually tailor the Leon ST to your preferences: things like sports suspension, a different steering wheel, heated front seats are all available, plus there's a big $27k saving to the V Hybrid to help justify and enable some options.
Does it earn its Sports and Tourer titles? Absolutely, and the fact it's fast and frugal makes the capacious Cupra Leon Sportstourer quite a catch.

ENGINE: 1.5-litre petrol four, mild hybrid
GEARBOX: Seven-speed dual clutch
POWER: 150kW/250Nm
0-100KM/H: 8.9secs
ECONOMY: 5.7l/100km
PRICE: $49,990


Keep up to date with DRIVEN Car Guide

Sign up for the latest news, reviews, our favourite cars and more.

By signing up for this newsletter, you agree to NZME's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.