Seat Leon Cupra Review
Hmmm, a strange car this isn’t it. This is a car with all the underpinnings of a new Golf GTI TCR yet it costs £4,000 less, has 2 more doors and comes with 3 way adaptive dampers as standard. And yes, whilst this car is arguably less plush inside than a Golf, I think you get everything you’ll ever need from a daily driver, and more.
Ok, lets’ talk about the figures, 286bhp and 380nm of torque from the now very well known EA888 2.0 tfsi made by the VAG group. It’s a truly wonderful engine, the power delivery is linear all the way up to the red line and it delivers all of its torques from just 1800 rpm.
Of course, what would this engine be without a gearbox to match. Thankfully, the 7-speed dual clutch unit in this car is an absolute peach, smooth when you’re driving round town and unbelievably quick when you need it to be.
Part of the reason for this is the different driver modes you get with the car. First you have comfort mode, the dampers go into their softest setting giving you a nicely settled ride quality whilst the engine becomes docile, less eager to attack the road ahead.
Next there’s sport. The gearbox goes into its s mode, the engine feels more eager to get a move on and the dampers firm up just a tad to get you round the corners in a more composed way.
Then there’s Cupra, arguably the mode you’re going to want to be spending most of your time in, depending on what you like of course. In this mode, you get even firmer dampers, heavier steering, a quicker throttle response and the exhaust makes asbo noises.
The final mode you get is ‘individual’. Basically, you get to decide what settings you want. You can have soft dampers whilst having everything else in its most aggressive setting.
Oh, and did I mention this car has a VAQ differential? Yeah, this bit of magic can shuffle power around the front wheels to literally pull you around a corner. How the F does it do that you might ask. Well, it’s like a normal diff, sending more power to the wheel with the most grip.
Except this one is controlled by a computer and it can be engaged or disengaged using a set of clutch packs within a fraction of a second. Being controlled by a computer also allows it to do something called torque vectoring. Basically, it sends more power to the outside wheel mid-corner so you can have even higher cornering speeds and ultimately less understeer.
All this comes together to give you a car that is truly capable on road and on the track. Notice I said capable, not engaging. Well, whilst this car is indeed engaging to an extent, the likes of a Honda Civic Type R has more to offer in terms of driver involvement. But that doesn’t mean it is dull to drive by any means. For me, it hits that sweet spot of fun/daily drivability.
You might say, well if you want a daily you should get a Golf R or Audi S3. And yeah that’s a good shout, but I never smile when I drive those. They’re more point and shoot kind of machines.
The Cupra just has a bit more soul, but not too much. Sounds odd doesn’t it.
Interior wise I think this car is pretty good, you get ambient lighting, apple car play, a digital dash with some fun layouts and a responsive touch screen that works well. You also get plenty of storage throughout. There are only two downsides I’ve noticed since having this car and the first is the cup holders.
You don’t get any grippy bits on them so you’re limited to what you can put in them, cans and small bottles are fine but flasks and larger bottles won’t fit.
The next one is road or tire noise. It could just be these tires but the road noise at motorway speed in this car is slightly louder than I’d like it to be. Not like a Fiat 500 but certainly not as good as a Golf.
Overall, it’s a nice place to be, with soft touch material in the places you touch and alcantara on the seats.
Now, back to the price. These things start from just under £30,000, some even go as low as £26,000 brand new! But that’s not the exciting part. They are unbelievably cheap to lease. So cheap in fact that I actually got one for myself. I pay £293 a month for this car. I paid no deposit, and that’s with a 12,000 mile annual allowance.
That’s over £40 cheaper a month than a Golf GTD, that’s right. Not an R or a GTI. £40 a month cheaper than a diesel with over 100 bhp less, I mean for gods sake, it’s cheaper than a 1.8 litre diesel Mazda 3!
A lot of people say “oh but Golf R’s have good deals at the moment” or “A Golf R is only £30 a month more expensive.”
You know what. I think that’s a load of tosh. Maybe they had a special deal on at one point for £323 a month but the cheapest one I could find with the same mileage allowance was £380 a month, nowhere near the £293 of the Seat. Then they’ll say oh well that’s only £87 a month. That’s not that much. Well over a 48 month lease that works out to £4,176. Seems like a lot now doesn’t it.
I’m not saying the Seat is the better car because I just don’t think you can. The Golf R and Audi have 4 wheel drive, slightly nicer interiors and are slightly quieter.
To me, they’re just a different kind of car altogether. They’re more everyday hatchbacks that can murder a b road with the utmost efficiency, where as the Seat is like a hyena on pcp, the front scrambles away whilst the back just hangs on for dear life.
At the end of the day, if you want a car that keeps you happy on long journeys, does decent fuel economy and is generally just more engaging behind the wheel, the Seat should be your choice.
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This article is based on opinion. You should always do your own independent research.