With its Leon e-Hybrid, Cupra wants to prove that sportiness can rhyme with electricity. But can a 245-horsepower plug-in hybrid be as efficient as a 100% thermal GTI?

Electricity at the service of sportiness! A concept derived from motorsport more and more used by manufacturers. Formerly reserved for the most prestigious brands, hybridization on sports-oriented cars is tending to expand, the general practitioners having also put their fingers in the socket.

We think in particular of Volkswagen with its GTE, Peugeot with the 508 PSE and Seat. Or more precisely Cupra, the sports branch now emancipated from the Spanish manufacturer which markets a new e-Hybrid version, in other words plug-in hybrid of his hot-blooded Leon.

Without shelving the thermal versions (245 and 300 hp) or the 4-wheel drive station wagon (310 hp), Cupra therefore intends to give even more trouble to its long-standing adversaries, the Honda Civic Type R, Renault Mégane RS … and even the cousin Volkswagen GTi.

Test Cupra Leon e-Hybrid, the sportswoman with an ecological bonus 8

Good to know: anticipate the purchase and resale.

It is possible to know the resale or trade-in value of your vehicle thanks to the auto Turbo rating of your Cupra Leon, the alternative to the Argus rating.

Connected driving

The Leon e-Hybrid can therefore count on a beautiful power of 245 hp obtained thanks to the joint work of the 1.4 TSI of 150 hp and an electric motor of 116 hp. Without forgetting, of course, the 12.8 kWh battery (rechargeable in 5.45 hours on a domestic socket and 2 hours on a 3.7 kW terminal) allowing it a 100% electric autonomy announced at 52 km in WLTP cycle.

And above all, allowing him to benefit an ecological bonus of € 2,000 in 2020 (€ 1,000 in 2021, to be deducted from the € 39,600 requested). Yes, yes, you read that right, an ecological bonus for a sports car! A big advantage compared to the 10,000 € and 7,000 € penalty that will be requested next year from buyers of a Civic Type R or a Mégane RS.

It will therefore be necessary to get used to the game of recharging even with a sports car. The advantage with such an engine is obviously the possibility of choose your camp according to the conditions. Driving emission-free in the city, going to work during the week in a cathedral silence and being able to have fun on the small roads at the weekend.

At startup, not a noise. The Cupra Leon E-Hybrid wakes up electrically and glides peacefully for around 40 kilometers without using a single drop of fuel (45 km if you have the fiber of eco-driving). Of course, you can decide to drive in hybrid mode and even to keep a minimum battery percentage, but for that you will have to dig into the various infotainment menus.

You will also be able to recover energy during deceleration thanks to several modes: weak, strong (one pedal type) and adaptive, which manages the engine braking according to traffic and speed limits. But the preferred mode at the wheel of a Cupra remains that of the foot fully on the right pedal!

Test Cupra Leon e-Hybrid, the sportswoman with an ecological bonus 9

Is a plug-in hybrid Cupra worthy of its pedigree?

Moreover, the announced performances are interesting: 0 to 100 km / h in 6.7 seconds and top speed of 225 km / h. Not bad for a vehicle of 1.671 kg, electrification having the bad consequence of causing a certain overweight.
Cupra mode activated, the steering becomes heavier, the engine rumbles and the damping becomes firmer. A radical change that rings false, especially in terms of sound. Fortunately, Individual mode allows you to silence the speakers and adjust each item independently. Interesting for engine response, gearbox and steering) but a real headache for controlled damping and its 15 available modes !

Once the Cupra e-Hybrid is configured as desired, it gives a glimpse of beautiful things. The power manages to pass rather well to the only two front wheels (even in the wet), the steering is precise with a well-guided front axle and powerful braking. The behavior is dynamic but there is a taste of unfinished business compared to a 100% thermal version more efficient in all areas.

The engine for example, tonic at low speed thanks to the 400 Nm accumulated and the electric boost, tends to quickly choke high in the revs. Same thing for the DSG6 box which seems to suffer from hybridization compared to its efficiency on thermal models. Which inevitably causes an increase in consumption, to 9.5 liters per 100 km in sporty driving (around 4l / 100 km in hybrid).

Test Cupra Leon e-Hybrid, the sportswoman with an ecological bonus 10

A real face

By becoming Cupra and plug-in hybrid, the Leon was entitled to a nice favor in terms of style. The matt gray, the various specific bodywork elements such as its diffuser with double exhaust and its very beautiful rims give it a real face. Moreover, apart from the hatch hiding its grip at the front left, difficult to distinguish the slightest hint of electrification.

Inside, the recipe is the same. The Leon’s on-board presentation has been revised with specific materials, bucket seats, elongated paddles and a new steering wheel (optional at 700 €). So many equipments that come in addition to a rather rich series endowment : 12 ” digital instrumentation, infotainment system with 10 ” GPS, three-zone automatic climate control, reversing camera with parking sensors. On the other hand, and it is logical, the loading volume of the trunk goes from 380 to 270 liters because of the batteries. It takes some disadvantages to electrify!

Technical characteristics of the Cupra Leon

Cupra Leon e-Hybrid Technical Sheet
Model tested: Cupra Leon e-Hybrid
Dimensions L x W x H 4.39 / 1.79 / 1.44 m
Wheelbase 2.68 m
Min / max trunk volume 270 l / 470 l
Unloaded weight 1.671 kg
Thermal motor 4-cylinder in-line Turbo – 1.395 cc
(150 hp, 250 Nm)
Electric motor 116 hp 330 Nm
Drums 12.8 kWh
Total power 245 hp
Couple 400 Nm
0 to 100 km / h 6.7 s
Max speed 225 km / h
Autonomy – 100% electric (WLTP) 52 km
CO2 rate (WLTP) 29 g / km