Seat Leon Cupra Test Drive Review
08 August 2014
According to Seat, the Leon Cupra is its icon, with its UK boss declaring that the three-door SC model in red is the car that most describes 'what Seat is all about'.
Its most powerful production car yet, the new Leon Cupra is available in three- or five-door form, and with either 265hp or 280hp, the latter costing £1200 extra but also adding satellite navigation, black mirrors, mouldings and rear spoiler, and red brake calipers. The package is enough for Seat to expect 95% of cars
to be the more powerful alternative.
It's fair to say that, if you avoid the more lurid colours, the Leon Cupra is more understated than its key rival, Ford's Focus ST. The lack of overt spoilers and bodywork is a good thing from a corporate perspective.
The inside has a few touches to differentiate the fastest version, and the comfy sports seats are clearly not standard in the mainstream models.
Firing up the Cupra gives an exhaust note that also reveals a potent package, and there are no complaints about the performance - it's certainly a rapid piece of kit. Getting 280hp through the front wheels, even with electronic trickery,is always going to be a challenge, and in the wet the Seat does object to lead-footed behaviour. But otherwise, it's a fun car that does exactly what you'd hope from a Cupra.
The good news is that, for a 280hp turbocharged petrol hatchback, the emissions aren't horrendous, and compared with rivals with similar power, the Cupra is on its own for efficiency at 154g/km.
The 250hp Focus ST is at 169g/km and the 300hp VW Golf R has a figure of 165g/km. For less power, the 230hp Golf GTI is only at 139g/km, and both that car and the Focus ST can beat the Leon for cost per mile.
But for the power, performance, quality, practicality and usability, the Cupra offers an excellent balance that will leave the fortunate few drivers happy with their choice.