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CUPRA Leon VZe Review

We review perhaps the best-looking hybrid on the road, the CUPRA Leon VZe.

I've been driving around in the CUPRA Leon VZe for a couple of days and yesterday, as I was thinking about what words to put before you, I was a bit puzzled.

Price and budgets aside, this one's a no-brainer: if you're a climate-focused consumer, why wouldn't you buy it?

It is arguably one of the best-looking hatchbacks on the road today – I think you'll agree that it looks quite stylish.

It also comes fully loaded with technology and safety features too.

Not to mention it rides nicely, albeit leaning towards a sportier set-up.

On paper, the combined power figures look good too. GTI good. My only hesitation was around how well the petrol engine and electric motor worked together to get all that power to the ground.

But would the climate-conscious consumer really be worried about that? I think not.

And, because the average Australian travels roughly 36.4km per day, that shouldn't really matter, because the Leon VZe is said to travel between 55km and 60km on electricity only.

The real test for the Leon VZe

I set myself a challenge: if I can make it into the office using just electricity, in Sydney peak-hour traffic, without having to adjust air conditioning or any creature comforts – then this is probably the only car you need to get you where you need to go.

The Finder office is 37.4km from my house. So if I can get there on electricity alone, it means the average Aussie would be able to commute all day, in traffic, without a single drop of petrol.

I gave the Leon VZe a good, thorough charging and I headed into the office.

By the time I'd reached the M5, I was almost down a quarter of a ... battery? Charge? Either way, it didn't bode well. But all was not lost just yet.

While I sat, moving at a surprisingly moderate pace for that time of the morning, I was able to think about how nice it was to drive.

I could do that because once I had clicked on to cruise control, there was little more left to do than steer the vehicle.

It maintained a safe gap, braked to a stop when needed, and set off again when the car in front did – so all the safety sensors and technology worked well.

The steering is well weighted and because this was optioned with the $1,800 power sunroof – which in truth, did eat in to the headroom when I first hopped in – I had the seat right down in a low-slung, driving position. It felt quite sporty!

You'll be pleased to know we made it through the Eastern Distributor and into the city to my office, with just over a quarter of a charge to spare.

So there you have it, the CUPRA Leon VZe ticked off the average Australian's daily commute, done and dusted, on pure electricity.

But how do the actual specs of the CUPRA Leon VZe stack up?

Sporty with a side of comfort

Despite being electric, and taking off under battery power, I didn't think it felt as brisk as the claimed 0–100km/h time of 6.7 seconds would suggest.

That is despite some generous power figures, too. The electric motor produces 85kW of power and 330Nm of torque and once you get to the point where the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine kicks in, you then have 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque.

You really need to put your boot into it to get them working together, but when they do, you get a very fun 180Kw and 400Nm.

If you aren't a revhead, that is all you'll ever really need to get about.

Getting closer to the city, things got much slower, eventually coming to a stop (thanks again to the adaptive cruise control). We were looking alright on the juice readout, so that gave me a chance to think about the cabin a bit more.

CUPRA has done a good job of differentiating this from other VW Group products. The interior is well appointed, but more importantly, you can tell there has been effort made to make it interesting.

At night there is ambient lighting that runs the length of the dash and into the door trim, where the lighting then also becomes your blind-spot monitoring, turning from whatever colour you've selected to orange.

It's quite noticeable, which makes it safe.

There are sharp angles and a brushed metal-like insert on the dash, which breaks up all the soft materials atop the dash.

A large 12-inch touchscreen floats there too and controls virtually everything. You can select the ride set-up, whether you are in full EV mode or hybrid as well as the regenerative braking. You can select automatic, moderate or heavy.

I opted to go with heavy as it was easy to get used to and offered the best hopes for making it back home more efficiently.

It also controls all of your air conditioning and comes loaded with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which you connect up with 1 of the 2 USB-C ports that sit up front above the wireless phone charging bay.

The seats are fairly comfortable, they're trimmed in cloth and adjust manually, but you can have these swapped out for leather, electronically adjustable ones for $2,050.

The only real drawback I can think of is the boot space, which is considerably less on the VZ and VZx models, thanks to the battery needed for electric driving. Officially, there is 270L on offer, which is down on the 380 litres in the VZ and VZx, and there is no spare under the floor either – instead, you'll find a tyre repair kit.

Our verdict on the CUPRA Leon VZe

  • The CUPRA Leon VZe makes a great daily driver, but if you put pricing back on the table, it could be a hard pill to swallow with a price tag of $60,490 plus on-road costs – only you will know that after test-driving.
  • For someone like me, it would be hard to look past the Leon VZx, which gets the beastly 221kW, 400Nm 2-litre turbo petrol engine for roughly the same price.
  • Regardless of which way you go, you're getting a well-equipped and bolted-together car that will offer some good fuel savings, provided your trips are around the average for the Australian daily commute.

Not to mention you'll be driving one of the best-looking hybrid hatchbacks on the road.

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