A HOLIDAY in the West Country provided the ideal chance to drive my long-term test car in a variety of situations – and it didn’t disappoint.

In the months since the Cupra Leon arrived outside my house, it has impressed in a big way, never more so than during a trip to Devon during the school half-term break.

During two motorway stints of more than 250 miles, the Leon proved to be a smooth and refined companion, offering excellent fuel economy.

With cruise control engaged, we achieved mpg in the mid-40s, reducing to the low-40s when cruise control was deactivated.

The Cupra Leon alongside the River Dart The Cupra Leon alongside the River Dart

On the lengthy trip, the cabin seemed well insulated from tyre roar and wind noise, created a very relaxing ambience. Indeed, my family remarked on the smoothness of the ride as we progressed along the M5.

And my children seemed especially pleased that the back seats had access to their own phone charging ports as well as rear seat climate control, meaning they wouldn’t have to put up with the cooler temperature I tend to favour when driving.

Climate control and charging ports for the back seats were pleasing Climate control and charging ports for the back seats were pleasing

The VZ2 Design Edition, retailing from £41,370, is a slick machine that performs the twin functions of being practical when necessary and dynamic when the conditions allow.

Once off the motorway, the handling capabilities of the Leon came to the fore on twisty and undulating roads.

It’s one of those cars that inspires tremendous confidence when cornering, with its road-hugging abilities making it feel like it’s on rails. Indeed, the weighting and directness of the steering are spot on.

The 1.4-litre e-Hybrid engine is sporty without being scintillating, offering just enough grunt to feel sufficiently swift. Accelerating from a standing start to 62mph takes 6.7 seconds.

A period of more varied driving, uphill and down dale, brought about a much-reduced fuel economy figure of 27.2mpg. Admittedly, by this point, the electric charge had dissipated, which undoubtedly affected the powertrain’s efficiency.

Clearly, being disciplined in keeping the battery topped up achieves the best results, but it’s also reassuring to know that the Leon hybrid remains a very usable vehicle when running on petrol power alone.

The interior of the Cupra Leon The interior of the Cupra Leon

Typically, I’ve found the electric motor is good for between 25 and 30 miles of electric-only driving.

For everyday driving, it’s fine to leave the Leon in ‘comfort’ mode and to let it go about its business in a relaxed and composed manner. There’s still enough performance on offer to provide sprightly acceleration when needed.

Once you engage sport mode or Cupra mode, you bring forth a new sense of urgency to the engine note, with the car becoming more responsive to driver inputs - but you’ll also see the fuel economy figure start to go in the wrong direction.

Interior space is on a par with other vehicles in this segment and there were certainly no grumbles from the back seats during a six-hour stint of driving.

A nice location in Shaldon, DevonA nice location in Shaldon, Devon

Up front, I’d been able to sink into the sports bucket seats, which were supportive and comfortable.

The premium quality of the cabin has been quite noticeable during this long-term test. Soft-touch materials dominate the cabin, while copper-coloured trim and stitching provide a nice sense of uniformity, mirroring some of the external design flourishes.

The infotainment system is operated through a 12-inch touchscreen, which is intuitive and displays sharp graphics.

The built-in sat-nav seems to have made a few curious decisions during my time with the Leon, so I’ve tended to connect my phone to use either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for navigation.

With every passing month, I’ve grown ever-fonder of the Cupra Leon, which is a compelling all-round package.

CUPRA Leon Hatchback 245 PS

PRICE: £ 41,370

ENGINE: 1.4-litre petrol e-Hybrid


TOP SPEED: 140mph

0-62MPH: 6.7 seconds

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed auto DSG

TRIM: VZ2 Design Edition