Feature article

Best Cupra Car Models in NZ: Buying Guide

Cupra is a relatively new car brand here in New Zealand. So which are the best Cupra cars?

12 March 2024

Cupra is a relatively new car brand here in New Zealand. The Cupra badge was once used to designate the performance versions of the Seat range, but has since usurped its former master, and is now a stand alone brand. It’s been so successful, Seat is now goneburger.

Cupra is part of the VW group, still Spanish in origin, and is tasked with offering more dynamic, driver-focused cars and SUVs. It has a relatively small range of vehicles with one EV, the Born, a couple of SUVs in the Formentor and Ateca while the Leon can be had as either a five-door hatch or a wagon, the latter they call the SportsTourer.

Cupra NZ runs an agency type sales model here, meaning that the price is set by the distributor, there’s no haggling involved. And it’s the same regardless of where you buy your car from around the country. There are six Cupra Garages around New Zealand, though Christchurch is the only one for the South Island. However there are Cupra service centres in Nelson and Queenstown.

Part of the Cupra Driveaway pricing regime includes all on road costs and a tank of gas. All models are covered by a five-year/100,000km warranty. Cupra offers three- and five-year service plans to help lock in your maintenance costs at the time of purchase. So which are the best Cupra cars then?

A need for speed?

At the top of the Formentor and Leon line-ups are the go-fast variants, designated VZ. That’s short for Veloz, which in Spanish means Fast or Speedy. And these models sure are that.

One of the better hot hatches on the market is the Leon VZ. It’s $63,900 and its 2.0-litre turbopetrol makes 221kW and 400N. It's a front driver with a seven-speed twin clutch auto. It’s relatively lightweight at 1500kgs, which means nimble and engaging handling. Its fuel consumption is listed at 7.6L/100km, so it’s not too bad on the emissions front, given its turn of speed.

Need a bit more space? You can also get the VZ in SportsTourer form at $69,900. It has a similar powertrain to the five-door hatch, but adds all-wheel drive, helping it stick better and making it quicker off the line. And you've also got 580L of cargo space in the rear. It’s a fun, fast family wagon.

Want something a bit different? There’s the formidable Formentor SUV VZ. This has the same powertrain as the Leon ST, but in a funkier body, one with that slightly raised seating position people seem to like. Although it's an SUV, it drives more like a fast wagon, it's very engaging. These VZ models can be both sporty and pampering thanks to adaptive dampers, which you can fine tune to your liking.

All these VZ models are backed by five star safety ratings and come with plenty of technology onboard via a 12-inch touch screen with wireless Android Auto and CarPlay, charge pad and sat nav.

The ones with low emissions

For those with an eye on emissions, Cupra also has options. You can get plug-in hybrid versions of the Leon SportsTourer and the Formentor which offer a real world electric range of around 40 to 50km of emissions free commuting. These are around the same price as the VZ models however. They're not quite as quick or dynamic, but have the potential to use less fuel and emit fewer gases.

There's also the pure electric Born which is one of the more dynamic EVs that you can buy. It's rear wheel drive, making it interesting to drive; it feels very nimble and balanced in the bends. It has quite a large 77kWh battery, giving it a WLTP range of 548km, which is plenty. It's reasonably practical too with comfortable space for four passengers and 385L of boot space.

It too has a five star safety rating and a long list of features to help justify its $75k price tag.

The more affordable Cupras

A good thing about Cupra’s well devised range is that you can have much of the style and dynamic character for a lot less cash by opting for the entry- level V models. While they have a few less items on their spec sheet, they still have the requisite safety equipment for a five star safety rating, and most of the conveniences for easy, modern motoring.

These V models come in around the $50k mark, and while they have modest power outputs, the mild hybrid turbo technology delivers a good mix of easy torque and balanced fuel economy. And as mentioned, you get all the same style and a dynamic driving character that sets Cupra apart from the rest.


Kyle Cassidy
Kyle Cassidy
Editor NZ Autocar magazine - autocar.co.nz

Kyle has been reviewing cars since starting at NZ Autocar magazine in 2003 and has been editor since 2009. In that time he’s become an expert on what makes for a good vehicle while also gaining insights into the local automotive industry.