First-world problems

At the risk of sounding ungrateful… By Colin Overland


When so much is wrong in the world – proper life-and-death wrong – it can seem rather absurd to be worrying about the fine degrees of difference that separate a good car from a great car. None the less, that’s pretty much our job here, so that’s precisely what I’m going to do.

To put everything in some kind of context, I need to stress that the Cupra Leon Estate is quick, comfortabl­e and easy to get on with. On a cold, wet day it will keep you warm and safe. On a hot, dry day it will keep you cool and entertaine­d. Its ample boot will happily absorb bicycles, guitars, tents and whatever else you wish to transport.

It’s happy pootling around town, and it’s a willing workhorse on long motorway missions. But what about those in-between journeys, where you’ve got somewhere to be, but you’ve got time to take an interestin­g route? I had one of those days recently, when I needed to go to Goodwood to eat a very agreeable lunch with a lovely bunch of people, and I managed to get up early enough to take a route that would dodge the tra†c that can make the journey to West Sussex some sort of first-world Hell.

And that’s where the Leon proved itself to be… okay? Maybe it’s me. Maybe I need to clock up a few thousand more miles to really get a feel for it. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the ride quality is the wrong sort of firm, exacerbate­d by a nerve-shredding amount of road noise. And the bigger issue is that it always seems to be the wrong gear. Even when I use the paddles to manually override the auto ’box, the powertrain never feels or sounds entirely happy, as if it’s straining towards something it’s never going to achieve.

I suspect a large part of the problem – and, yes, ‘problem’ is stretching things – is that I’ve spent decades driving and nearly always enjoying Golf-adjacent products from the VW Group. And this doesn’t feel like one, even though it is. Only a year or so ago I had a wonderful drive in the estate version of the current Golf, not the R version but the Alltrack. That felt so much more fluid and intuitive than this Cupra cousin.

I will, however, spare you any moaning about excessive beeping and bonging, or intrusive lane-keep assistance. Unlike the cars currently being driven by several of my colleagues, the Leon makes it pretty easy to turn that stuff off.

The story so far

All-wheel-drive Golf-based wagon

★ Both practical and rapid, and all-day comfortabl­e - Lumpy ride; unsatisfyi­ng drivetrain


Price £44,845 (£46,825 as tested) Performanc­e 1984cc turbocharg­ed four-cylinder, 306bhp, 4.9sec 0-62mph, 155mph E ciency 34.4mpg (ocial), 32.4mpg (tested), 186g/km CO2 Energy cost 22.7p per mile Miles this month 1025 Total miles 9031

 ?? ?? Talking of fast estates… here’s Goodwood
Talking of fast estates… here’s Goodwood
 ?? ?? Cupra Leon Estate 2.0 TSI 4Drive VZ3 Month 8
Cupra Leon Estate 2.0 TSI 4Drive VZ3 Month 8

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