Seat Leon Cupra R review

When the Seat Leon Cupra R arrived on the scene last year, it made this strikingly obvious with a series of publicity shots depicting a massive explosion in the background of the stylish new hot hatch.

While the Seat Leon Ecomotive is the perfect hatchback for the eco-conscious, Seat has shown the versatility of its range with a genuinely fun hot hatch based on the standard Leon.

This is mainly because the Seat Leon Cupra R is the most powerful model the Spanish manufacturer has ever produced.

It uses the same 261bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that’s found on the Volkswagen Golf R and the Audi S3 and develops 350Nm of torque.

It sits at the zenith of the Seat range in terms of performance and can clear 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds with a limited top speed of 155mph but there is no DSG automatic gearbox option on the Cupra R, like there is on the Ibiza Bocanegra, which gives something of an insight into its mixed identity.

As we’ve mentioned the Cupra R is something of a beast, but under the performance-led exterior, the car still manages upwards of 30mpg, seamlessly delivering the best of both worlds.

It has more power under its bonnet than any other Seat and its six-speed manual gearbox is smooth and fast making driving genuinely exciting.

On the road it handles well, helped no end by its XDS system – a form of traction control – which limits body roll around corners and from the inside you’re almost unaware of the speeds the 261bhp engine manages to achieve.

That’s because the Leon Cupra R isn’t like most hot hatches – the type of cars you’d expect it to sit alongside.

It’s agile around corners and incredibly stable for a front-wheel drive car but it lacks the slip, slide and rigidity of your standard hot hatch.

Instead its drive is genuinely comfortable and forgiving for a car of such power and speed, and those fuel economy figures are some of the best in the segment.

From the outside however the Leon Cupra R makes no bones about being a performance hatch back.
The model we tested was finished in bright yellow and adorned with ‘R’ livery, sporty looking grilles and black mesh as well as a sculpted body which along with twin exhausts, hint at its performance capabilities.

There’s also the recent addition of contrasting white alloys which look brilliant and an extended rear spoiler.

Inside there’s the usual mix of leather, metal floor pedals and Seat’s flat-bottomed steering wheel, topped off with that hot hatch staple, sports seats.

This all gives the interior a sporty feel without becoming uncomfortable, and matched to that powerful engine, puts the Seat Leon Cupra R up there with the very best hot hatches on sale in the UK.

Seat is often associated with style and desirability. Throw in performance figures outstripping any Seat before it and add impressive fuel economy to the mix and the Seat Leon Cupra R suddenly becomes very desirable indeed.

Unfortunately for UK buyers, exclusivity is also a characteristic of the fantastic hot hatch, with only 500 available for a starting price of £25,000.

If you can find one, it’s well worth it.

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