Cupra Leon VZ Sportstourer review: Fourth Estate is a fan
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
CUPRA LEON VZ SPORTSTOURER
- Speedy, so composed on the road
- Incredibly practical
- Almost sits in its own part of the local market
- Interior could be more inspiring
- Lack of buttons inside isn’t a good thing
- Exhaust note is monotonous
Once upon a time, a high-performance station wagon was the perfect answer for those looking for excitement on the road, but also needing practicality. The rise in popularity of high-powered SUVs has seen the demand for the humble estate drop, but I’m happy to report that these low-riding family wagons are still as awesome as you remember.
The Cupra Leon VZ Sportstourer is a perfect example of this, though it's smaller than the Audi RS 6 and Mercedes-AMG C 63 that most would associate with the segment.
Like the regular Cupra Leon VZ hatch, the Sportstourer sits on the same MQB platform as the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf. It also uses the same engine as the GTI, with power figures closer to that of the previous-generation Golf R. So unlike the Leon VZ, which is just a faster version of the Golf GTI, this Leon Sportstourer is a more mild version of the new Golf R wagon – but better looking.
Under the bonnet sits a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine making 221kW/400Nm. This is sent to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Despite the all-wheel drive system and bigger dimensions, it’s only 150kg heavier than the Leon hatch, and thanks to the extra traction, it’s actually faster to 100km/h: 4.9 seconds is all the Sportstourer takes to hit triple figures on the speedometer before it’ll top out at a limited top speed of 250km/h.
On the topic of performance, I’d argue that it’s a much more composed ride than the Leon VZ, but is just as exhilarating in its own right. Traction is never an issue with the all-wheel drive system, and the transmission seems to chop through gears in a smoother fashion than the hatch.
Given its placement as a performance car, the ride isn’t overly harsh, but can be a touch stiff at times as a family wagon. In the Cupra drive mode, the ride is tight, the engine is snarly and the transmission smacks through gears at an impressive rate. If you’re looking to compare it with another VW Group product, I’d argue that it’s a lot closer to a Golf R wagon than an Audi S4, but probably offers better driving dynamics than the latter, at almost half the price.
On the inside, the Sportstourer is identical to the Leon VZ, which is extremely similar to the Golf 8. Thankfully, Cupra decided to retain the buttons on the multi-function steering wheel, but they’re basically the only buttons that you’re going to find in the cabin. Unlike the Leon VZ, it gets the fancy steering wheel with the engine start/stop and "Cupra" mode buttons on it. It gets the tiny gearshift tab that we’ve seen across VW products of late, which is a little strange at first, but becomes second nature in time.
When it comes to practicality, the station wagon is obviously more usable than the smaller hatch, but there aren’t too many differences. From the second row of seating forward, things are largely the same as the hatch, with adequate head and leg room, but seating a team of basketballers is a tall order. Behind the rear seats is where the real magic of the Sportstourer becomes apparent. With the rear seats up, the Sportstourer offers 620 litres of luggage space, basically doubling the hatch’s figure, and with those seats down, you get access to 1600 litres.
On the safety front, the Leon Sportstourer comes packed with all the modern amenities that anyone would need. Most importantly, adaptive cruise control comes standard, as does lane assist and blind spot detection. Other handy things include park assist (that works extremely well) and automatic emergency braking (thankfully I didn’t find a use for this one).
As a whole, Cupra’s Leon offerings in New Zealand cater perfectly to what the modern performance car enthusiast is after. In one corner, you’ve got a ballistic little hatch that will light up the front wheels at the drop of a hat, and will drive circles around the new Golf GTI. In the other corner is the far more composed Sportstourer, which doesn’t offer all the theatrics of the hatch, but instead, is significantly quicker.
As much as I love the hatch, if I had to choose between the two Leons, I’d be going for the Sportstourer as there isn’t a box that it doesn’t tick on the practicality and performance fronts. In doing so, it seems to sit in its own little niche here in New Zealand, which only adds to its credibility.
CUPRA LEON VZ SPORTSTOURER
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo
GEARBOX: 7-speed automated dual-clutch, AWD