Cupra Australia is off to a hot start.
After officially opening orders in mid-2022, the Spanish brand, under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, is set to deliver more than 1,000 cars this year, and it has enough orders to deliver more than 500 again. .
By far the strongest seller is the Formentor SUV, but it is heavily supported. Leon The hatchback on test here.
We’ve already driven the range-topping VZx and the plug-in hybrid VZe, now we’re getting behind the wheel of the mid-ranger. Leon VZ.
Under the skin, the VZ shares its oily bits with one of the world’s most iconic hot hatches: the Volkswagen Golf GTI.
This is not a carbon copy. As well as its more angular exterior, the Leon’s interior is unique compared to its more daring German cousin, and engineers at Cupra headquarters in Barcelona say they’ve delivered a slightly livelier, more characterful drive.
The Leon is also significantly cheaper than the Golf. Looks delicious.
Leon VZ has one. Driveway price of $57,490 Nationwideand the list price of $52,990 before on-road.
It’s $6000 cheaper than the VZe plug-in hybrid, and $8000 cheaper than the VZx flagship. It undercuts the Volkswagen Golf GTI ($54,990, excluding the $3900 Premium Package) with which it shares its platform and drivetrain.
It also competes with the Hyundai i30 Hatch N DCT ($49,200). The Ford Focus ST has left Australia, the Renault Megane RS is on its way, and the Honda Civic Type R is a more serious beast, with a manual transmission and prices starting at seven.
2023 Cupra Leone VZ Pricing:
- Cupra Leon V: $43,990 ($47,990 drive away)
- Cupra Leon VZ: $52,990 ($57,490 drive away)
- Cupra Leone VZe: $60,490 (varies by state)
- Cupra Leon VZx: $61,490 ($65,490 drive away)
Prices exclude on-road costs.
Leon is essentially a Spanish cousin of the Golf, and he feels it behind the wheel. That doesn’t mean it’s a carbon copy.
Basics are best. The driver and passenger sit in sporty seats with plenty of firmness, and tall drivers will have no trouble staying comfortable.
Although the standard seats are trimmed in what feels like standard cloth, our tester had soft leather trim and heating thanks to the Leather and Sound package.
It’s a box worth ticking, because with the good seats and sound system it makes the Leon feel like a premium small hatchback.
It would be nice if the seats dropped down to provide a really sporty feel, but otherwise there’s not much to complain about.
As you would expect in a modern Volkswagen Group cabin, the screens are the show here. The touchscreen is a 12-inch unit that runs the Cupra’s software from the VW Golf and Skoda Octavia ranges, along with single touch sliders at the bottom to control volume and temperature.
The Cupra points out that it allows owners to drop a widget on the home screen to control the fan speed for the air-con, and to highlight the shortcut button – the system’s biggest advantage over the Golf. It’s easy to jump around – but it’s sometimes futile.
Changing drive modes is harder than it sounds. You need to dive into the sub-menu in the mid-range VZ to find Sport or Cupra, which seems like an odd oversight for a brand that wants to be overtly sporty.
We’d love a prominent button on the dashboard, or a shortcut button to sit permanently on the touchscreen so you can jump into Sport more easily.
The digital cockpit is beautiful, and features unique graphics in keeping with the Cupra’s sportier rim. The steering wheel itself feels great in your hands, and has proper buttons rather than touch controls.
It will all feel familiar to anyone who has been in a Golf before, but it has a distinct flavor that is unique to the Cupra.
Rear seat space is par for the class. Their chunky seats with one-piece backrests restrict forward visibility, but kids will be able to get back there comfortably without too much pressure.
Average-sized adults will also be able to get back in there, though if you regularly haul people around, the larger Formentor or Ateca are better options.
Dual ISOFIX points and three top tether points for child seats, along with a fold-down central armrest, air vents, and dual USB-C points.
The power in the Levin VZ comes from a. 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine (The EA888 engine is used throughout the Volkswagen Group) making 180 kW And 370Nm.
It is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The sprint is claimed at 100 kmph. 6.4 seconds.
Fuel economy is claimed. 6.7 liters per 100 km On the combined cycle, we managed 8.1L/100km on a highway with a healthy dose of driving.
Premium 95 RON unleaded fuel is the minimum required, and is in the fuel tank 50 litres.
The Leon VZ is a well-balanced take on the hot hatch formula.
Locked in Comfort mode it’s a capable daily driver. Ride quality is better than you’d expect on pockmarked roads, and the turbocharged engine has bags of torque.
You can roll without dipping too far into throttle travel, and it has enough punch to keep up with traffic without ever really feeling strained.
The dual-clutch transmission is smooth off the mark, and shifts seamlessly through the gears on cruise. As has long been the case with the Volkswagen Group’s hot hatches, performance doesn’t really come with any compromises on the daily grind.
It’s got light, direct steering and decent all-round visibility, so it’s easy to maneuver into tight spaces, and a suite of cameras and sensors means there’s no excuse for scraping those pretty wheels.
With that, Leon fell into a familiar trap on Australian highways. With the cruise set to 100 km/h there’s plenty of road roar from the 19-inch wheels, forcing you to crank up the stereo to get it out.
It’s not a deal-breaker – the same issue plagues premium European hatches like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3 – but it’s the most noticeable issue in what’s otherwise a very good package.
A full suite of active driver assists is on hand to keep the car in front, keep you between the white lines, and warn you of obstacles lurking in your blind spot at highway speeds, all intelligently calibrated. have gone
The Cupra gives you Sport and Cupra modes, but you can also customize the car using individual modes.
The adaptive dampers can be toggled through a wide range of tunes, from more relaxed than Comfort to more aggressive than the more aggressive Cupra mode; While the steering, engine and exhaust are also adjustable.
On the back roads between Melbourne and the Haunted Hills, everything locked in the most aggressive Cupra mode expected that the suspension, set somewhere between Comfort and Sport, was the right mix.
Setup like this is a fun, quick way to cover Lyon ground. The front end is keen to turn, body roll is well controlled even with the adaptive dampers focusing on compliance.
The steering is accurate and direct, so it’s easy to keep the car where you want it, and there’s enough torque on tap to get you out of corners across the rev range.
It’s still not as lively as the Focus ST, but it feels more adjustable than the GTI.
The rear plays up under heavy braking or when you lift off the throttle, but it still feels accessible – it’s tied down, but offers more room to play with. This is a good place to occupy.
Shifts from the seven-speed transmission in Cupra mode are quick, and pulling the plastic paddles behind the wheel produces instant response. When you charge with the pedals, the car will actually stay in your selected gear until it absolutely can.
Cupra makes the in-car sound a bit different from that found elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group, and has a character of its own.
Leon V Highlights:
- 18 inch alloy wheels
- LED headlights
- LED daytime running lights
- Fog lights with cornering function
- LED tail lights
- Automatic headlights
- Automatic high beam
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Rear tinted windows
- 10.25-inch digital cockpit cluster
- 12-inch touchscreen infotainment display
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Wireless phone charger
- 4 x USB-C ports
- Heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Heated, power-folding side mirrors
- Paddle shifters
- Adjustable ambient light
- Black headliner
- Cloth sports bucket seats in black.
- Selecting a driver profile
- Dynamic chassis control
- Progressive steering
- Keyless entry and start
- Auto dimming rear view mirror
- 3-zone climate control
- Bright lentil panels
- Aluminum pedals
- Semi-autonomous parking assist
Leon VZ added:
- 19-inch black and silver alloy wheels
Power sunroof: $1800 (all models)
Leather and Sound Package: $2450 (V, VZ)
- Leather upholstery
- Heated front seats.
- Power driver’s seat with memory
- Mirror memory
- Dashboard with copper colored stitching
- 9-speaker Beats sound system
Capra Leone wears one. Five star ANCAP safety ratingBased on Euro NCAP testing conducted on the Seat Leon in 2020.
It received an adult protection rating of 91 percent, a child occupant protection rating of 88 percent, a vulnerable road user protection rating of 71 percent, and a safety assistance rating of 80 percent.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- 10 airbags including front center, driver’s knee
- AEB including pedestrian, cyclist detection
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Blind spot monitoring
- Rear cross traffic alert
- Driver fatigue monitoring
- Keep lane support
- Active Passenger Protection (Pre-Cash)
- Reversing camera
- Safe exit warning
- Travel Assist (Adaptive Cruise + Lane Centering)
The Cupra Leone is covered by one. Five-year, unlimited kilometer warranty.
The Cupra also comes with three years of complementary scheduled servicing with all models, representing a saving of around $1200-$1500 based on what Skoda and Volkswagen charge.
Leon fulfills the promise set by VZ Cupra.
It carries the tried and tested bones of the Volkswagen Group and adds a bit of spice, with the added bonus of undercutting its corporate cousins on price. The fact is that it’s a good-looking alternative to the mainstream with a well-appointed interior, and it’s easy to see its appeal.
While it doesn’t have the same VZX feel about it as the one we drove in early 2022, the VZ still has enough range to satisfy avid drivers without compromising its daily drivability. Keep busy.
Should you cancel that Golf GTI order and head to your local Cupra garage? If you want to stand out from the crowd, there’s nothing wrong with looking.
Click on the images for the full gallery.
MORE: Everything Capra Leone