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The Cupra Leon is reasonably priced, loaded with tech, a delight to drive, and all packaged within one stylish hatchback body.

19 Jun 2021


I hear the Spaniards went searching throughout the New World in the 16th century for the fabled Fountain of Youth.

And well, if you're on the lookout for something that will return some energy and vigour to your motoring life, this Cupra Leon could just be it.

Quick introductions

The Cupra Leon sports gorgeous and very much in-trend full-width rear taillights 
As the performance-oriented branch of the Volkswagen Group's youth-targeting Seat brand, Cupra has up until now, made do without that most youth-targeting sporty hatchback in its product lineup.

Well, that has now come to an end thanks to this new Cupra Leon. And boy, what a performance hatchback it is.

First important point to jot down: Singapore-bound hatches are coming here with their well-renowned EA888 engine tuned to 296bhp and 400Nm of torque. That means you're getting the most powerful variant out of the two four-cylinder and the additional plug-in hybrid option available internationally.

And second point for your notepads: This means the Cupra Leon you see in the pictures, will not only pip the likewise MQB Evo platform-based Golf GTI by 55bhp, but will also do so while asking only for $204,999, a hair under the $207,999 the Golf GTI is asking for (all prices as of 18 June 2021).

Hard charger

There's plenty of grip on offer despite being only front-wheel drive
Of course, all this will be for naught if the Cupra Leon cannot deliver the performance that hot hatch hunters are looking for. Fortunately, on this front, the Cupra Leon delivers.

Driving this hatch is a real treat, leaving you with a grin wide enough to eliminate any wrinkles on your face. Engine responsiveness is sharp, and becomes bitingly so when the car is set into its 'Cupra' mode. And it delivers a soundtrack that is nearly well-bodied enough to convince you that there could be more than two litres of engine underneath, with plenty of pops and bangs on offer.

Toggle between 'Comfort' and 'Cupra' modes early in the morning and you will be able to detect some of that soundtrack's artificial origin, but no matter, for its in the upper rpms that the engine really comes into its own.

You get crackles and pops aplenty once the car is  set into its sportier modes
Pushed into its upper ranges like so, acceleration hastens to become menacingly quick, and you get faster upshifts as well. And its only here that all that turbocharging whistle evolves into a pleasing all-out roar.

Flamenco dancer

Press on into a set of bends, and you'll also find plenty of grip from those 19-inch Eagle F1 SuperSport tyres. The steering in the Cupra Leon is on the lighter side, but delivers plenty of feedback and is accurate enough.

But it is not all hard charging with the Cupra Leon either, with up to 15 different settings within the Adaptive Chassis Control system, you'll be able to set the car up to be as comfortable as any other commuter simply by sliding over to the more sedate section of the range.

Copper-coloured stitching and accents work with the ambient lighting to uplift an otherwise grey interior
And bumping it up even beyond the default for 'Cupra' mode will still leave the car nearly comfortable enough to use every day.

Speaking of which, you still get a very usable 380-litres of space in the boot of the Cupra Leon, all accessible via a wide aperture, so its got all the expected and regular hatchback duties still well covered. Over three days I averaged a fuel economy of 9.4km/L, with a fair bit of enthusiastic driving.

Showy gamer

Inside the Cupra Leon, there is still plenty that will appeal to the young, or make you feel so. The Cupra badge features prominently on the steering wheel like the branding on the latest gaming rig the teens so covert these days. And its brandished in copper as with the surrounds of the air-conditioning vents, offering up much visual pizzazz in the interior.

10-inch infotainment system offers up some gorgeous graphics
Also gaming rig-like are the numerous themes available for the interior background lighting, as well as the amount of information that can be displayed within the 10.2-inch driver instrument cluster.

Thankfully, you get a choice of five main themes for the cluster, one of which is a minimalist option that's great for reducing the amount of distraction when you just want to go on a more leisurely drive.

The 10-inch infotainment system, however, is not as great. Some time will be necessary to get familiarised with its layout, and it can be susceptible to lag (perhaps some of my age is starting to show here).

Enough leg and headroom for two at the rear, even with those sizeable sports seats up front
Fortunately, it does offer up pleasing graphics and the quick access buttons at the bottom are all brightly coloured, making it truly something worth admiring.

The leather wrapped sports bucket seats walk a fine balance of offering both good support and wiggle room, and those at the rear should have no qualms with either leg or headroom.

Forever young

Those Spaniards may not have been able to find their fabled fountain, but with this Cupra Leon, they might have actually come very near close to one anyway.

Car Information

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CUPRA Leon 2.0 TSI DSG (A)
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Price

: $208,999

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1984cc

Horsepower

:

221kW (296 bhp) / 6500 rpm

Torque

:

400 Nm / 5200 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DSG

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

5.7sec

Top Speed

:

250km/h

Fuel consumption

:

14.9 km/L

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car review  cupra  leon  cupra leon  hot hatch