PH Fleet: SEAT Leon Cupra R

Twenty years ago some things would have seemed like madness: caring about 140 characters of 'txt' from a celebrity tweeter; having access to a world of knowledge via a little electronic gadget in your pocket; and putting over 250bhp through the front wheels of your shopping car.

Well the brave new world has been around for a while, and as far as the front wheel drive power race goes, several manufacturers have put forward contenders. Recently Renault gave you the Megane 250 (250bhp), Volkswagen entered the fray with a Scirroco R (261bhp), and Ford trumped the lot with the Focus RS (300bhp).

Well, with all that excitement going on we could hardly ignore it, so say hello to the latest PH acquisition - and a relatively recent manufacturer entry to the 250bhp+ cadre - in the shape of a yellow SEAT Leon Cupra R.

SEAT's most powerful road engine
SEAT's most powerful road engine
The yellow peril produces 261bhp and incorporates XDS to stop that usual inside wheel spinning up. This poses the first problem with my new ride; I am not an electronics fan, and I'll take a good old lump of engineering over an electronic differential any day. So why, in the few weeks since the car has been around, have I have yet to settle into the usual pre-drive ritual of turning off the anti-hooligan button?

This does slightly surprise me, but the truth is the XDS hasn't seem too over-rigorous as yet, and I haven't quite felt the need. There is a a flashing traction light trying to steal my attention regularly, but the system does remove some of the torque steer you would expect, without being too over-bearing.

Lovely twin pipe action
Lovely twin pipe action
There is one electronic device in the car that is starting to get wearisome though, even after a few short weeks. SEAT has built a car and engine that is pretty quiet in the cabin, and certainly a welcome break from the noise in my previous Nissan 370Z. But the engineers (or should that be 'marketeers') have decided we need help to relate this car to its racing WTCC sibling (the petrol one), and that it needs to make the appropriate noise.

This has meant the fitment of small speakers in the footwell of the car, pumping out electronic engine noises matching the revolutions of the engine. To be fair it is only really noticeable when you hold a gear at higher revs, but I am slightly worried that if I put Cher's vocoder-enhanced Believe on the stereo at the same time, a fake electronic sub-universe will be created. (Pete, you're losing it... Ed.)

I'm sure I have a coat like that
I'm sure I have a coat like that
Other elements of the cabin are growing on me. The quilted leather seats are a nice place to sit for short or long journeys, and they are positioned for a reasonable driving position too.

On the outside, the SEAT has an element of Q-car-ness in spite of the lary paint job. The frontal changes are subtle over a bog standard Leon, but the rear features more visual expressions of the power that lies beneath the skin, with centrally mounted twin exhausts. (That I am told sound lovely from the outside.)

After a string of rear wheel drive cars, this is going to be quite a different experience, and predictabley I'm spending far less time coming out of junctions sideways. But I am looking forward to spending more time in the car, and when I finally get the iPod connector in the SEAT to actually recognise my electronic phone device, I shall doubtless feel compelled to add a few txt characters of my own to the tweetosphere. Thing's probably aren't so mad after all.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (61) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Iam Keyser Soze 09 Dec 2010

    Ive just been looking at these on Autotrader with delivery mileage for around £21k.
    Bargain if you ask me.

  • Hoygo 05 Dec 2010

    This is the cheapest Hot hatch and the best choice you can get from VAG.
    3K cheaper from Scirocco R,5K cheaper from Golf R and has the same engine and the same build quality as well.But i would still take the Megane 250 thought ,no one can match it for handling and its the most fun hot hatch you can buy.

  • geofflowe 05 Dec 2010

    Had a SEAT Ibiza FR TDi which with a REVO map was pretty rapid. Sold that and was tempted by a Fiesta 1.6 TDCI which I had mapped to a whole 122 BHP but it was just too weak still. Shame, as the car looked nice and with some decent power would have been nice. Have now gone back to SEAT with a Leon FR TDi 170 CR which is planets ahead of the Ford in terms of build quality (and power of course). Won't be going back to Ford anytime soon - quite like VAG stuff for the time being (and Ferrari's of coure)!!

  • J500ANT 03 Dec 2010

    Me likes my new SEAT Leon FR CR TDI DSG a lot. It's the facelift model so the ride on 18s isn't so bad. Very good service from Neil Lake @ Swindon Motorpark too.

    Now, if only they did a CupraR with a DSG box for those of us who need only 2 pedals.....

  • mainaman 03 Dec 2010

    Vidal Baboon said:
    Nice addition to the fleet. I never liked the engine note- or lack of it.

    One thing that will be worth it is a remap. I think SEAT will honour REVO remaps if they fit it for youthumbup

    The TTS/S3/Cupra/Cupra R/Ed30 engine has bags of potential and has to be one of the most tuneable engines available today.
    Yes,and can be tuned to over 350 BHP on standard internals.The Volvo 5 pot can't make more than that.

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