The Cupra Leon e-Hybrid strikes a nice balance between sportiness and efficiency – but you’ll need to keep the battery topped up to get the very best out of it.

During the first part of my long-term test, the car’s dual personality is what impressed the most.

In the city, it’s a frugal, relaxed and normal car, especially if you use Comfort mode. Thanks to the hybrid set-up, CO2 emissions are just 29g/km and you can indulge in a bit of electric-only driving, up to an official range of 34 miles, although 30 miles is more realistic in real-world driving conditions.

Out on the B-roads, when the circumstances allow, its performance is enough to bring a smile to the face. It isn’t blisteringly quick, but a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds feels pretty swift, especially when combined with superb handling and a decent slab of torque, measuring 250Nm between 1,550rpm and 3,500rpm.

thisisoxfordshire: The Cupra Leon

Indeed, the Cupra Leon feels immensely well-planted and grippy in the corners, inspiring a real sense of confidence in its road-holding abilities. Body roll is well-contained, while the steering is nicely-weighted, quick and direct.

A great sense of agility means ‘turn in’ to corners is near-instantaneous, allowing for great precision when positioning the car exactly where you want it on the road.

Sport mode and Cupra mode bring a new sense of urgency to the engine note, with the car becoming more responsive to driver inputs.

The Cupra engineers have added an element of theatre to the cabin, which is particularly impactful at night. Heavy acceleration on Cupra mode has the effect of illuminating a red-coloured lighting strip running across the top of the dash and curving round towards the doors. The interior wrap-round lighting combines with other ambient lighting to make the cabin feel very atmospheric once darkness descends. 

thisisoxfordshire: The Cupra Leon e-Hybrid

The best results – both in terms of performance and economy – are achieved when the 245PS powertrain’s petrol and electric units are working in tandem, so it’s important to be disciplined in preventing the battery from becoming completely depleted.

With the two working together, the official fuel efficiency figures from this plug-in hybrid show a return of 217mpg. Using the 1.4-litre petrol engine in isolation, that reduces quite sharply to around 40mpg.

The power is delivered smoothly through a DSG gearbox, which doesn’t tend to fumble around for too long when you put your foot on the accelerator.

thisisoxfordshire: The Cupra Leon e-Hybrid

The sporty set-up means the ride is firm, but it never strays into the territory of being uncomfortable, even on some of the more bumpy roads.

There’s no question that the Cupra Leon really looks the part. It isn’t too brash, but it has enough design flourishes to attract admiring looks.

The copper trim is aesthetically pleasing in a subtle yet eye-catching way. My test car came in VZ2 Design Edition trim, which gets the 19-inch Performance satin black copper alloy wheels as standard.

thisisoxfordshire: 19" Performance satin black and copper alloy

The fit and finish inside the car is of a premium standard, while interior space is on a par with competitors in this segment.

The sporty theme continues in the cabin, with sports bucket seats offering great support as you press down on the Cupra Sports pedals.

  •  We'll update you on this long-term test in due course, with a closer look at the day-to-day practicalities of living with the vehicle and more on the interior features.

CUPRA Leon Hatchback 245 PS

PRICE: £ 41,580

ENGINE: 1.4-litre petrol e-Hybrid

EMISSIONS: 29g/km

TOP SPEED: 140mph

0-62MPH: 6.7 seconds

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed auto DSG

TRIM: VZ2 Design Edition

INSURANCE GROUP: 28E

BENEFIT IN KIND RATE: 12%