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Old Time Rock & Roll: 2023 Cupra Leon V Sports Tourer Review

For those of you that are music history connoisseurs, you will notice the article title takes inspiration from a classic Bob Seger tune by the same name. If you haven’t heard the song before then I do recommend lending your ear to the lyrics which when summed up describes the changing scene of music and how Seger prefers “that old time rock & roll.”

There are many similar parallels to the automotive world, which has changed with SUVs dominating sales, owners citing “practicality” as one of many motivators for the purchase. In several ways, my week with the Cupra Leon V Sports Tourer (or ST for short) presented a conundrum as to whether the station wagon still has a place in the today’s landscape or whether it’s a vehicle type best left to the history books.

Front three quarters view of a Black 2023 Cupra Leon V Sports Tourer.
Cupra Leon V Sports Tourer is a stylish car to most eyes

To make my biases clear up front, I am a station wagon loyalist but even to the untrained eye, the Leon V ST is a properly good looking vehicle. Yes, the hatch is sharply styled too but extending the dimensions now makes this a truly attractive car. A fact made clear to me during my lengthy road test where it attracted plenty of approving eyes while on the road, with an instance of two lovely ladies even stopping to peek into the cabin to show their appreciation!

Rear three quarters view of a 2023 Cupra Leon V Sports Tourer in Black.
Leon V Sports Tourer owns the night!

That was during the day too but it’s at night where the Leon V ST really comes into its own. Especially in Midnight Black, the glossy finish of which gets dirty easily but makes for excellent photos when clean. Then there’s the Cupra Infinite Light bar, of which I have already expressed my admiration before while reviewing both the Leon V and Formentor VZ Tribe Edition! Once again, it’s an eye catching design element and one that helps to highlight the rebellious nature of Cupra.

Wheels of a 2023 Cupra Leon V Sports Tourer in Black.
Optional ‘Design Package’ will add Copper accented wheels among other improvements

At the end of the day though, the Leon V ST is a station wagon so it must offer a certain usefulness. You’ll be pleased to know that it is as pretty to look at as it is practical!

As car reviewers, we like to prophesize about low loading lips and flat floors but as someone who is without back issues (mostly), those words have never meant much to me. Until they did! Coincidentally, it was during my week with the Leon V ST that I was helping my sister organize for an event. This meant carrying 3m long poles, lights, boxes of table decor etc, now it all made sense! The Cupra carried everything like an absolute champion as you can see below. On the practicality scale, it couldn’t have been better with 579L of room that expands to 1,559L with the seats down!

Fully laden boot of a 2023 Cupra Leon V Sports Tourer.
Sports Tourer body style offers excellent practicality!

My week with the ST was no longer than a regular calendar week but I did spend a lot of time in the car, covering over 800 kilometres! As such, I got a chance to get extremely familiar with the Leon V ST. My extensive driving covered plenty of motorway miles and city driving as well as having the car both laden and unladen with luggage/equipment. After every one of those drives, the Cupra left me feeling refreshed, it’s easy to maneuver and has plenty of non-intruding safety systems, though I did find the Adaptive Cruise Control system to be a bit overcautious at times.

The cautious counter argument from SUV buyers favours safety & control as two other reasons for choosing a vehicle with a raised ride height. However, my week with the Leon V ST made me feel both firmly in control of the car with a responsive steering and secondly, safe!

Interior of a 2023 Cupra Leon V Sports Tourer, photographed at night.
Cabin is comfortable and big on tech!

Yes, the suspension set-up is on the firmer side but its acceptable for daily use and coupled with comfortable seats, does a good job of keeping you cushioned from the road surface. General feeling of passenger space is excellent too and even in this standard model with no optional extras, you don’t feel starved for luxuries. It’s on the motorway where the ST particularly thrives, achieving fuel efficiency figures on the better side of 5.5L/100kms. During my time with the car, I averaged 6.6L/100km, very impressive! The 7-speed DSG does a good job of keeping that 110kW accessible but efficient. 250Nm on tap means its got plenty of go when full too!

View of the digital instrument cluster on a 2023 Cupra Leon V Sports Tourer.
Achieving 700km before having to fill up, Leon V ST is economical to say the least!

Like the Leon V hatch, the 1.5L turbo powertrain is mated to a mild-hybrid system meaning that it shuts off the engine while coasting, a behaviour that takes some getting used to but with time eventually develops into a habit.

Photograph of a Cupra badge on the rear of a 2023 Cupra Leon V Sports Tourer in black.
Cupra badge adds both mystery and exclusivity to the car’s appeal

The Verdict

Speaking of habits, Cupra are making the production of good cars seem routine! Both the Leon V hatch and Formentor VZ Tribe Edition had impressed me but not like this Leon V Sports Tourer. In my opinion, it’s the best looking Cupra on sale currently and even in this base spec, offers plenty in return for your cash. It is living proof that the wagon still has its place in today’s SUV world and kudos to Cupra for doing a smashing job in keeping it alive for us ‘Old Time Rock & Roll’ fans!

2023 Cupra Leon V Sports Tourer: 5/5

Thanks for reading! For more Cupra news and reviews, visit Tarmac Life.

Car courtesy of Cupra Motors New Zealand and EMD. Words and photos by Matthew D’Souza.

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