Hold on to your SEAT - SEAT LEON Car Review


Added: 29 Jun 2010
Last update:

SPANISH manufacturer SEAT has shown a true Jekyll and Hyde personality in the space of just a few weeks with the launch of two new Leon models.

First was the most economical Leon yet built in their new Ecomotive offering, a car which pares emissions to below that magical 100g/km figure, while returning nearly 75mpg.

Then, in a complete reversal to the ethos of what that ultra-green model stands for, enter the awesome Cupra R, a highly-tuned, mind-blowing version pumping out no less than 261bhp from its two-litre turbocharged power plant, making it the most powerful SEAT offered in the brand’s history.

And while the boy and girl racing brigade out there would not give the Ecomotive a second glance, it’s a totally different story with the five-door Cupra R, for they could spend hours simply drooling over the sexy, flowing lines of this sporty piece of machinery.

To give the car the air of exclusivity it deserves, SEAT designers really have had their work cut out.

First, you can’t fail to be impressed by the massive 19-inch wheels on which the Leon stands. Available in silver alloy or in white paint finish, the five twin-spoke Potenza design alloys make an immediate impact.

Then there are the twin, centrally-mounted exhaust pipes encased within an ebony black rear diffuser. While above, a similar coloured rear spoiler houses the high-level brake light.

To the front, ebony black highlights again feature in the door mirrors, grille and front bumper, which also contains the housings for the spotlights. Finally, R badges front and back complete the exterior look.

Inside, the sports seats have also been singled out for some extra-special treatment. The silver stitching and Cupra lettering contrast with the black leather interior, while the front seat backs are finished in high-gloss ebony black complemented with R badging.

However, although different from the outside, it is the power from within that sets this SEAT apart from the rest.

Derived by the engineers at the car maker’s technical centre in Martorell, the standard 16-valve petrol engine now features a new high-pressure fuel pump injector for even greater performance, while revisions to the electronic engine management system plus increased maximum turbo pressure add to the unit’s power output.

To help control all this power, a host of driver aids have been  fitted to the Cupra R. Traction control and emergency brake assist come as standard, as does ABS and SEAT’s clever XDA electronic limited slip differential system which has already made its mark on other high-performance models

To give a taste of just how the Cupra R performs, SEAT took the newcomer to Rockingham Speedway, near Corbyin Northamptonshire.

I decided that rather than be thown onto the high-speed infield track for starters, I would first get to get to grips with the car on county roads around the circuit.

And it doesn’t take long to be impressed by the amount of power that’s just waiting for some welly from the right foot.

This powerful engine is fabulously responsive while the engine note under hard acceleration is a pure joy.

The six-speed gearbox is as smooth and precise as they come and with its shortened throw allows for exceptionally fast gear changing.

On the track, the car was even more impressive. Grip from the massive tyres allowed for ultra-fast, yet safe cornering, while acceleration and performance can just about match those of highly-expensive supercars.

The benchmark 0-62 mph dash takes just 6.2 seconds while the Cupra R’s top speed is 155mph - and this in a car costing £25,205.

However, while these figures are somewhat mindblowing, other statistics are more in tune with today’s green awareness.

With average fuel economy of 34.9 mpg and CO2 emissions cut to just 190g/km, the Cupra R just happens to be one of the least polluting of all ultra-hot hatches.



Words: Bruce Booth

Keywords: SEAT, Leon, Cupra, R, First Drive, latest, Leon, Manufacturers, Seat, £25-30,000, 190