SEAT Leon Cupra R - SEAT LEON Car Review


Added: 15 Jan 2003
Last update:

IN THE Leon Cupra R, SEAT wanted a car that would stand out from the crowd - well that goal has been achieved and much more.

This car oozes power, performance and a racing design that at times feels like it should be confined to a race track.

But that's what you get when you bring in the competition side of the company, SEAT Sport, to help with the design.

The result is a potent 1.8 turbo-charged 20 valve engine that takes you from 0-62 in just 7.2 seconds (it feels like less, believe me!) and all for just under £17,000.

SEAT has also come up with a unique Agile Chassis Concept which means the Cupra R benefits from lightning reactions, superb grip and enhanced driver feedback, but not at the expense of passenger comfort.

And the sporty feel does not stop with the engine. The package includes 18in alloy wheels through which the large red braking system can be seen, a deep front spoiler, side skirts and roof-mounted spoiler. Inside the racing theme continues with an all-black finish and white instrument faces that proved a little difficult to read on a bright day.

The seats have red stitching and a red R emblem embroidered on the backrests.

It has the sporty look and the sound lives up to expectations - the large chromed oval tailpipe is specially tuned to give off a distinctive throaty roar. In fact, some drivers might be tempted to take the most traffic-light congested route to work each day, just to have the opportunity to keep revving up and showing off the pull-away speed!

As far as driver and passenger comfort is concerned the Cupra R is unusually long for its class, which means plenty of legroom front and rear, and ample space for luggage.

With its sporty looks and performance, safety and security are important factors and SEAT has not fallen short.

It has exceptional braking ability, thanks to a sophisticated anti-lock brake system with Emergency Brake Assist, further enhanced by Electronic Stability Programme, Traction Control and Electronic Differential.  ESP uses sensors which will not only brake individual wheels as slip is detected, but also reduce engine torque to help bring the car back under control.

Safety is further enhanced by driver and passenger front airbags, side airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, a collapsible steering column and a pedal box assembly designed to break away in a crash to minimise injuries to legs and feet.

In the event of a serious collision or the vehicle overturning, a signal automatically activates the emergency hazzard lights and interior lights, unlocks the doors and shuts off the fuel supply.

To sum up, the Cupra R has a real poser feel about it that will not appeal to the Driving Miss Daisy school of motoring, but could be too much for the inexperienced driver to handle.

The car supplied for the test was bright yellow which really sums up the Cupra R - it's bold, loud and demands to be looked at. In other words, it stands out from the crowd.


SEAT Leon Cupra R

Price: £16,995

Mechanical: 180bhp, 1,781 cc, 4-cyl turbocharged petrol engine driving front wheels via 6spd gearbox.

Max Speed: 147 mph

0-62mph: 7.2secs

Combined mpg: 32.1

Insurance Group: 17

CO2 emissions: 211g/km

BiK rating: 24%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 3yrs paint; 12yrs antirust.

Words: Maxine Ashford

Keywords: SEAT, LEON