From £33,1008

Brilliantly rounded hot hatch shines in its simplest spec

Not all Cupra Leons are equal, it appears. Any Leon is a practical and mostly well-designed hatchback that’s hampered somewhat by its aversion to buttons. The Cupra Leon hybrid can’t live up to its performance branding and the all-wheel drive Cupra Leon estate is rapid but a bit uninvolving. This pure-petrol hatchback, however, has impressed us with its sweetly balanced yet surprisingly comfortable chassis and strong but usable performance.

The 300 version left a slightly lukewarm impression during the 2021 Britain’s Best Affordable Driver’s Car competition because, judged purely as a driver’s car, the Leon was not quite as exciting as the Hyundai i20 N or a Ford Puma ST. For the occasional B-road blast, the Ford Focus ST also just edges it.

However, viewed as an all-round proposition, its practicality and comfort propel the Cupra Leon to the top of its class, even though we can’t help wishing for a manual gearbox. And the 245 loses very little compared with the 300 other than several thousand pounds off the price. We suspected it before and this test confirms it: a plain Cupra Leon is an improved and better-value Volkswagen Golf GTI.