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In-depth reviews

Cupra Leon review – performance and 0-60mph time

Limits of front-drive traction made up for by sharp-shifting dual-clutch

Evo rating
  • More agile than a Mk8 Golf GTI Clubsport
  • Not as confidence-inspiring; forgettable looks

If you’ve driven any of the VW Group’s EA888 engine variants, the Leon won’t surprise you in terms of feel or performance. Overall, the turbocharged four-cylinder engine is so evolved that power, and more particularly torque, is spread right across the bulk of the rev range.

Leons fitted with the 242bhp engine variant hit 62mph in 6.4sec, the same as an equivalent Golf GTI, and thanks to the low boost of the turbocharger is more responsive than the higher-powered variants. Top speed is rated at 155mph. 

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The 300’s 0-62mph time is reduced to 5.7sec, 0.1sec behind a GTI Clubsport and 0.3sec behind the less powerful Hyundai i30 N DCT. Performance in the mid-range is impressive, but the turbo takes a little longer to wake up, something only accentuated by the relatively sluggish DSG ’box.

What all Leons lack, though, is a sparkling top end – the sort that made the previous-generation Sub8 and Cupra R models come alive. Instead, current Cupras strain at the top end of the rev range, and feel  just too laborious to be considered a real hot hatchback. This can also be partly attributed to the Leon’s increase in weight, which for the 300 is rated at 1500kg.

By comparison, Hyundai’s i30 N (as fitted with a six-speed manual) landed on our scales at 1455kg, the new Civic Type R coming in at 1437kg. More worryingly, the Golf R with its clever rear differential and all-wheel-drive system comes in only 29kg more than the Cupra at 1529kg.

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