The Cupra is the top of the range model in the SEAT Leon line up, which comprises of a variety of models from the base 1.6 litre petrol ‘Reference’ model prices at £12,495 through to the petrol ‘FR’ a 2.0 litre TSI sports inspired model priced at £17,250, plus there is a diesel 2.0 litre TDI ‘FR’. We are testing the range topping Cupra priced at £19,695 and best classified as a hot hatch.
We drove the old SEAT Leon Cupra ‘R’ back in 2005 and we were left quite impressed but things have moved on a long way since then. Currently there is not a Cupra ‘R’ and SEAT remains undecided as to whether they will introduce one. So for the time being the Leon Cupra is the top of the range model and it is the only car in the Leon line up not to be branded as such - the central boot Leon badging has been replaced with a Cupra badge.
There is only one engine choice, the petrol 2.0 litre turbocharged TSI producing an output of 240 ps (237bhp), which makes the Leon Cupra, SEAT’s most powerful production car to date. It takes just 6.4 seconds to do the 0 to 62 mph sprint and has the power to propel you onto a top speed of 153 mph. This compares to the Mazda3 MPS which does it in just 6.1 seconds or if your budget stretches to it Audi’s S3 which takes 5.7 seconds to reach 62 mph, but it is quicker than the Honda Civic Type-R which records 6.6 seconds. Which is all pretty much academic on the road the Cupra feels quick, with good mid-range punch which is perfect on your favourite ‘B’ roads. The lag from the turbocharger is minimal and with 221 lb/ft of torque available between 2200 rpm and 5500 rpm, it isn’t half fun.
The short throw 6-speed manual gearbox is great to use, even with its odd shaped knob, the ratios are well suited to the Cupra. The ‘raspy’ exhaust note is addictive and has been specially developed for the Cupra, entitled SEAT SOUND.
The brakes make short work of stopping the Cupra and are upgraded from the standard Leon’s with 345 x 30 mm discs on the front and 286 x 12 mm on the rear. There is the usual ABS with brake force distribution and emergency brake assistance. One technicality we liked about the brakes was the fact that when the windscreen wipers are activate the brakes are regularly cleaned and dried off, without any interaction from the driver - very clever!
This is a 12-year+ news article, from our SEAT archive, which dates back to the year 2000.
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