Interested in a Cupra Leon?
    • A sexy take on a proven formula
    • Fast and refined, daily usability
    • Eye-catching looks will get you attention
    • Recent price increases hurt value
    • A bit more tyre roar than I'd like
    • No physical drive mode controller
    5 Star

    The Cupra Leon is basically the product of a Volkswagen Golf going on a Spanish exchange program.

    Using the same MQB evo architecture, which also means shared powertrains and on-board technology, the Leon is SEAT and Cupra’s take on Germany’s iconic small hatch, with a bit of spice and sportiness.

    On test here is the 2024 Cupra Leon VZ, which uses the same 180kW 2.0 TSI petrol engine as popular VW Group performance products like the VW Golf GTI and Skoda Octavia RS. It’s priced also in the same ballpark as its cousins.

    You can get into one of these for under $60,000 drive-away, which isn’t far off what you’ll pay for a Hyundai i30 N, and well less than what’s being asked by Honda and Renault for their more focused FWD hot hatches too.

    So far the Leon has been a bit unloved by Australians, with the bulk of the brand’s volume coming from the related Formentor crossover and the Born electric hatchback – not because of its merits, though.

    Should more performance buyers be looking at the Leon? And, is the VZ the pick?

    How does the Cupra Leon compare?
    View a detailed breakdown of the Cupra Leon against similarly sized vehicles.

    How much does the Cupra Leon cost?

    Cupra offers national drive-away pricing – the Leon VZ is priced from $57,990 drive-away, $1500 more than MY23.

    2024 Cupra Leon pricing:

    • 2024 Cupra Leon V: $49,190 (+$1200)
    • 2024 Cupra Leon VZ: $57,990 (+$1500)
    • 2024 Leon Leon VZe
      • $64,690 (ACT) (+$1700)
      • $65,690 (QLD) (+$1700)
      • $66,690 (NSW) (+$1700)
      • $66,690 (SA) (+$1700)
      • $67,190 (VIC) (+$1700)
      • $67,690 (WA) (+$1700)
    • 2024 Cupra Leon VZx: $65,690 (+$1700)

    Prices are drive-away

    To see how the Cupra Leon stacks up against its rivals, use our comparison tool.

    What is the Cupra Leon like on the inside?

    It’s familiar fare in the Leon’s cabin, and dressed up with the optional Leather and Sound Package it’s quite fetching.

    The chunky sports bucket seats up front have integrated headrests and embossed Cupra logos, and with the optional pack get trimmed in swish Nappa leather with copper contrast stitching and some cool quilting motifs.

    Also part of the additional package is electric adjustment and memory for the driver’s seat, as well as heated front seats. It’s all pretty premium-feeling stuff, right down to the stitched leather-look grab handles on the doors and cooper top-stitching on the dashboard.

    Now, I won’t go as far to say that the Leon is competing with the Audi A3 for cabin quality and ambience, but the Leon does go quite a distance in feeling a little more upmarket and special than even the related Volkswagen Golf. Our test car’s optional panoramic sunroof also lightens up the cabin from its predominantly black colourway too.

    I really like the Cupra steering wheel, which features physical buttons and scroller wheels, as well as Cupra’s version of the Digital Cockpit instrument cluster – it has menus and layouts that are more Audi-like, including a central tacho dial option that looks like it came out of an Audi R8.

    The centre touchscreen again draws heavily upon the stuff we’ve seen in the Mk8 Golf and latest Octavia, but Cupra’s take seems a little more user friendly, even if it’s not without its quirks.

    Cupra’s interface keeps a row of application tiles at the base of the screen, and there’s permanent shortcuts for the climate control system which allows you to bypass the fiddly temperature touch sliders.

    Wireless Apple CarPlay worked faultlessly while we had the Leon, though the wireless phone charger didn’t always charge my iPhone 15 Pro Max – this is something I experience regularly with other brands though.

    Embedded satellite navigation and DAB+ digital radio all feature as well, rounding out the spec sheet nicely. A minor frustration of mine is most key functions like drive modes, for example, are buried in the touchscreen – it’s a little fiddly and not as easily adjustable on the fly.

    Being essentially a reskinned VW Golf, the Cupra Leon offers good rear accommodation for the small passenger class.

    At just over 6’1 I can sit behind my own long-legged driving position with no fuss, making this a perfectly capable four-seater for adult passengers. A fifth person can fit in the middle, but the raised centre pew and tunnel hump make it the least comfortable position.

    Amenities in the rear are also solid. There’s a third zone of climate control with directional vents, USB-C chargers behind the centre console, map pockets behind the front seats, a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, and bottle holders in the doors.

    There are also ISOFIX anchors on the outboard positions and tether points across all three seats for the kiddies. My only notable criticism of the rear is that the chunky front sports seats can limit forward vision for second-row passengers, so if your little ones are prone to motion sickness, this could be something to consider.

    Petrol versions of the Cupra Leon quote the same 380L boot capacity as the related VW Golf. There’s also a ski port for longer items, and the rear seats lie pretty flat when folded.

    However, there’s no adjustable boot floor like the Golf, so you’re left with an annoying step between the boot floor and the seatbacks when you fold them down. There’s a space-saver spare underneath.

    What’s under the bonnet?

    ModelCupra Leon VZ
    Engine2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
    Power180kW (5000-6500rpm)
    Torque370Nm (1600-4300rpm)
    Transmission7-speed DSG
    Driven wheelsFront-wheel drive
    Weight1493kg (tare)
    0-100km/h6.4 seconds
    Fuel economy (claim)6.7L/100km
    Fuel economy (as tested)7.1L/100km
    Fuel tank size50L
    Fuel requirement95 RON

    How does the Cupra Leon drive?

    I was particularly interested to have my first stint in the Leon VZ as a potential replacement for my Mk7.5 Golf GTI.

    Yes I know the outputs from the engines are the same, but the drivetrain in the Cupra has been revised somewhat (namely better DSG calibration), as well as a louder and more fruitful exhaust note, combined with the sportier feel that comes with SEAT and Cupra products relative to their VW and Skoda counterparts.

    Very quickly I noticed the burble and bark from the back of the Leon was quite pronounced, especially once you start flicking through the drive modes – annoyingly, only via the touchscreen in this variant. You need to get the 221kW Leon VZx if you want the Audi R8-esque satellite drive mode switch on the steering wheel.

    Sport and Cupra not only sharpen throttle response and make the transmission shift harder and blip downshifts earlier, but also get more noise out of the rear pipes which also means pops and bangs on overrun as you lift off the throttle between 3000 and 4000rpm. It made me smile.

    There’s so much adjustability in the adaptive damping too, allowing you to go softer than Comfort, and harder than Sport if you so desire. Use the Individual mode to tailor everything to your liking, though it’s a shame you can’t default to your Individual driving mode on start-up.

    It all translates to a more focused drive, more of the time. And really, hot hatches are meant to put a smile on your face and engage you even when you’re doing mundane tasks like driving to the shops or work – and this delivers.

    Steering feel is interesting, as it’s a little light in weight and feedback but also very quick and accurate. The Leon feels very light on its feet and keen to change direction or point its nose wherever you turn the tiller.

    Being front-wheel drive only isn’t a bad thing either, because you get that more playful and rewarding dynamic experience of front-driven hot hatches. It rewards you when you get it right, and the electromechanical differential on the front axle does a great job at shuffling torque to the wheel with the most grip to pull you out of tighter corners.

    The seven-speed DSG has been refined further with this new generation of performance products, offering sharper shifts and incredibly quick response. Even better, it’s very easy to live with in normal driving.

    Once the road opens up the Leon demonstrates its capable high-speed cruising abilities, usually a must for European performance products given their intended use at over 200km/h on derestricted German autobahns.

    There’s a bit more road noise than I would have liked, but otherwise the Leon’s hunkered-down stance inspires confidence at 100km/h even in adverse weather, and the on-board assistance tech makes longer stints behind the wheel fuss-free.

    Travel Assist combines adaptive cruise control, Traffic Jam Assist and adaptive lane guidance to accelerate, brake, and keep the vehicle centred in its lane on the freeway. I’ve found the Cupra was a little conservative with gaps in its normal Comfort setting, but otherwise it works just as well as other VW Group products.

    Also helpful are blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts given the chunky C-pillars and smallish rear window, but otherwise the Leon is very Golf-like in that it’s a very easy thing to live with day-to-day and will fit in any car space.

    What do you get?

    Leon V highlights:

    • 18-inch black-and-silver alloy wheels
    • 18-inch space-saver spare wheel
    • Heated, power folding side mirrors
    • LED headlights
    • LED daytime running lights
    • Fog lights with cornering function
    • LED tail lights with static indicators
    • Automatic headlights
    • Automatic high-beam
    • Rain-sensing wipers
    • Rear tinted windows
    • 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster
    • 12-inch touchscreen infotainment display
    • DAB+ radio
    • Satellite navigation
    • Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
    • Wireless phone charger
    • 2 x front and 2 x rear USB-C ports
    • Heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel
    • Paddle shifters
    • Interior ambient lighting
    • Black headliner
    • Cloth, leatherette sports bucket seats
    • Driver profile selection
    • Dynamic Chassis Control
    • Progressive steering
    • Keyless entry and start
    • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
    • 3-zone climate control
    • Illuminated sill panels
    • Rear spoiler
    • Semi-autonomous parking assist
    • 2 x front, 2 x rear cup holders

    Leon VZ adds:

    • 19-inch black-and-silver alloy wheels
    • Aluminium pedals


    Leather and Sound Package: $2550 (V, VZ, VZe)

    • Nappa leather upholstery
    • Heated front seats
    • Driver power adjustment incl. memory
    • Mirror memory function
    • Dashboard with copper stitching
    • 9-speaker Beats premium audio

    Electric sunroof: $1850


    • Nevada White
    • Magnetic Tech
    • Midnight Black
    • Asphalt Blue
    • Urban Silver
    • Desire Red*
    • Graphene Grey*

    *Premium metallic finishes cost $475

    Is the Cupra Leon safe?

    The Cupra Leon wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating, based on Euro NCAP testing conducted on the SEAT Leon in 2020.

    It received an adult occupant protection rating of 91 per cent, a child occupant protection rating of 88 per cent, a vulnerable road user protection rating of 71 per cent, and a safety assist rating of 80 per cent.

    Standard safety equipment includes:

    • 10 airbags incl. front-centre, driver’s knee
    • AEB incl. Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
    • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
    • Blind-spot monitoring
    • Driver fatigue monitoring
    • Lane keep assist
    • Proactive passenger protection (pre-cash)
    • Rear cross-traffic alert
    • Reversing camera
    • Safe exit warning
    • Travel Assist
      • Adaptive cruise control
      • Adaptive lane guidance (centring)

    How much does the Cupra Leon cost to run?

    Cupra’s range is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with roadside assistance for the same period.

    The brand offers three- and five-year service packages upfront, which cost $990 and $1990, respectively. Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.

    Buyers who opt for the five-year package are also offered a concierge service with the purchase of a top-up pack, which covers pick-up and/or drop off of your vehicle to a nominated address provided you’re 10km from the nearest authorised Cupra Service Partner.

    The company is also offering a complementary three-year service package for select new and demonstrator Leon vehicles purchased using Cupra Choice finance.

    CarExpert’s Take on the Cupra Leon

    You don’t have to shell out for the top-dog VZx to have a spicy Spanish hot hatch experience.

    Much like the Golf GTI with which it shares much of its underpinnings, the 180kW Cupra Leon VZ is a very playful, zesty and capable all-rounder that is definitely not $8000 worse off than the flagship in terms of its abilities. It looks sharp, sounds good and drives beautifully.

    It’s got plenty of grunt, is more focused and fun than some of its VW Group stablemates, and relative to the segment represents solid value in an age where prices continue to increase well beyond “attainable” brackets.

    The $60,000 drive-away this optioned test car asks for (if you discount the $2000 sunroof that I could live without) is less than you’d pay for a Golf GTI or a Skoda Octavia RS with similar spec. It’s also well less than an Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSI S line quattro specified with the same level of luxuries.

    Perhaps what’s really holding the Leon back is the lack of brand and nameplate awareness. Australians barely remember SEAT, let alone a relatively new brand globally – and Leons are still thin on the ground here, unlike the Formentor.

    Those tempted by the exclusivity and newness won’t be disappointed. This is arguably the most driver-focused product in Cupra’s range, and adds the edge that’s perhaps missing in something like the Golf. It’s also much cheaper than something like a Honda Civic Type R.

    However, there’s another rival that offers similar thrills with even more noise for less money. I’d argue the Hyundai i30 Hatch N is the closest rival to the Leon VZ, and while many will prefer the maturity and more sophisticated tech the Cupra offers, its Korean rival is still incredibly strong value for money, offers a manual option, and sounds even better.

    I’d personally pick the Leon over most alternatives, but that’s some food for thought…

    Click the images for the full gallery

    BUY: Cupra Leon
    MORE: Everything Cupra Leon

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

    Overall Rating

    Cost of Ownership8.5
    Ride Comfort8.5
    Fit for Purpose9
    Handling Dynamics8.5
    Interior Practicality and Space8
    Fuel Efficiency8.5
    Value for Money8.5
    Technology Infotainment8
    $56,990 MSRP
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