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Touring Car

Cupra Leon E Hybrid | Review

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The Cupra Leon is a different sort of hot hatch, very different in the case of the phev e hybrid version this is an unusual confection but it deserves serious consideration from anyone prioritising performance with efficiency and wanting something just a little different in this segment.

Special mention : Sharp design, quality interior, hybrid energy savings. Incredibly comfortable & supportive sport seats. Cabin space is good. Fake engine noise is fake but not bad.

Needs work : Boot space could be bigger (taken up by the batteries)

BHP 245BHPPetrol / Electric / Auto
0-100 km/h in 6.7 secondsRoad Tax €140
Price: €46,210
As Spec’d : €49,799
Boot space 270 litres
Range 50 km

This Cupra may have a socially responsible powertrain but it still wants to be a hot hatch like other more conventional Cupra Leon’s. This one gets sport suspension which is lowered by 25mm at the front and 20mm at the rear and includes a number of drive modes from comfort, Sport and Cupra, the latter for those B road opportunities. Under the bonnet it’s the same as in a Golf GTE which means a 150 PS 1.4 litre TSI petrol engine mated to a six-speed DSG auto gearbox.

There’s also an 85 kilowatt electric motor powered by a 13 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery which has a WLTP rated all-electric driving range of 50 km. Which of course you won’t get anywhere near if you explore the quoted all-electric top speed of 110 km/h. Due to this alternative energy source there’s an extra kerb weight of up to 60 kilos over a conventionally engined Cupra. There’s 400Nm of torque on tap and that facilitates a 0-100 km/h time of 6.7 seconds, family motoring has never been quite as  much fun as this. 

Apart from an extra charging flap on the nearside front wing, there are no significant visual changes differentiating the e-hybrid variant from other Cupra Leon’s. Just like its showroom stablemates, this car looks really ‘gym toned’ in both of its body shapes; there’s a five door hatch and estate versions.

All the core things at the front are pretty much standard layout, the long  creased bonnet and the trapezoidal grille with its flanking LED headlights.  Everything seems more dynamic and different, that grille has a dark chrome frame and it’s embellished by a bold Cupra logo and the required overtaking presence, well that’s delivered by larger air intakes and a large front splitter. The rear makes its own statement too with two copper-coloured dual exhausts embedded on each side of the unique diffuser.

Inside you’re treated to sports bucket seats, a leather stitched Cupra steering wheel and silver Cupra sports pedals and the copper colour theme continues most notably with the trim around the prominent air vents and also the stitching on the door handles. Over the steering wheel you also get a  10.25” interactive digital driver display to replace the conventional  binacle dials and as with other layouts there’s a large central 10” infotainment touchscreen which reduces the number of touchable buttons. A new addition to the VAG group is the very compact and lovely Porsche style shifter for the standard DSG auto gearbox.  

In the back it’s a bit disappointing that the height of the central transmission tunnel makes it  tricky for middle seat passengers to be comfortably accommodated. Two people will be quite happy and now benefit from a fold down central armrest with twin cup holders and three zone climate control which has separate controls for the twin central vents.

As usual with a PHEV you’ll have to accept a little less boot space,  which here falls from 380 litres in a normal Cupra layout to just 270 in this hatch model, it’s 470 litres in the alternative estate. The combined range of the petrol and electric motor is around 600 kilometres and the electrified version of this will charge much quicker than a full EV. Charging from a domestic socket takes around five hours but using a garage wall box you’ll be able to reduce your charging time to about three and a half hours instead. Bear in mind that only a single mode 3 charging cable is included as standard.

The quoted WLTP combined cycle fuel return for a Cupra Leon e-hybrid hatchback is up to 217.3 mpg and for the estate e-hybrid variant it’s up to 201.8 mpg.

Families who have dismissed the idea of a hot hatch on the basis of inefficient running costs might well like what Cupra is serving up here being able to conduct nearly all your commuting duties under battery power and then being able to let rip on the back road home under petrol power is an enticing combination of virtues, particularly when it’s packaged up like this in a Leon like no other.