PH Fleet Update: SEAT Leon Cupra R


For the past 17 years I have been sticking little bits of silicone into my eyes so that I can see properly - it certainly aids in avoiding the walls in the office. Likewise, making sure I can see out the front of our long-term SEAT Leon Cupra R is pretty important. So after a week of watching the windscreen washer light flash to take action, I decided to fill up the reservoir tank.

As I stood on a chilly garage forecourt refilling the washer fluid, casually considering my next B-road attack, a pool of water gathered around my feet and, as I looked under the car, I saw a torrent of water pouring from underneath. Time to phone the local SEAT dealer.


The helpful dealership in Hampton booked the car in for the next day and I dropped it off for them to have a look at what had caused the Leon's incontinence. Within an hour they had phoned back having found that the pipe to the tank had fallen off and replaced it. Before my tenure, this Cupra press car had spent its time being sorely tested by motoring hacks, and jumping off kerbs around UK race tracks had worked the pipe loose.

A full valet inside out and a statement of work with a big fat zero cost on the bottom gets the thumbs up from me for SEAT after-sales care. I'm hoping I don't have to visit the dealers too quickly again with the car, but I know it will be a pleasant experience if I do.


Since my last long-term piece, I have also been doing further research on the controversial engine cockpit noise amplifier that caused a bit of a stir last time. From the deepest corridors of power at SEAT, I have unearthed a diagram (see right) of how the speakers are mounted in the car.

The blurb from the marketing guy explains: "The structure-borne sound system fitted to Leon and Ibiza Cupras (including Bocanegra) is essentially a sub-woofer bolted and bonded to the inside of the scuttle under the windscreen. It is activated by a control unit, which constantly looks at engine load, throttle position and vehicle speed to increase or decrease the 'noise and vibration' through the body, depending on the driver 'request'.

"This system does not play engine noise, etc, but rather gives the actual engine noise a depth and tone that cannot be achieved mechanically without affecting vehicle emissions and noise constraints.


A few colleagues have been keen to hear how this all works and, after a few spirited drives, it is getting a mixed reaction (Or is that just your driving, Pete? - Ed). I still maintain it is a little false in high gears, but others have been impressed and to be fair it is starting to grow on me. Though I have found the ultimate solution to the sound problem.

On a recent load-carrying trip to the tip, I had to have the rear seats down and the parcel shelf off. Slightly addicted to the 2.0-litre turbo's apparently exponential acceleration, I left the foot in for a little while longer than strictly necessary, and a gorgeous whoosh took me by surprise. Repeating the exercise, the same gorgeous noise from the back of the car filled the cabin.


So if you happen to see a Cupra R with its rear seats on the floor, it isn't to lower the centre of gravity to drop seconds from your 'Ring time (as some in the forum would believe). It is so that its driver can hear that exhaust breathing from the back of the car. Though my eyesight requires some artificial help, I hope my hearing doesn't anytime soon - as I am starting to really enjoy the R and the noises it makes.

It will be fascinating to hear what our competition winners think when they take the car to Geneva next week. Should be a fun trip, that!

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (26) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Mastodon2 14 Apr 2011

    Just because this is a subwoofer transferring engine noise into the cabin, is it really any different to the pipe or horn used on many other cars? I used to think that using a speaker was pretty contrived, but in truth it's no different from any other method.

  • Bobanegra 14 Apr 2011

    CliveM said:
    Just out of interest - as the owner ofa car that has amplified engine noise, does it make any difference to you whether the noise is coming mechanically from the engine or being produced by a computer and fed into speakers?

    BTW - I'm not having a poke at your choice of car, just genuinely interested.
    It doesn't make any difference to me at all how the noise is produced as long as it is being produced

  • CliveM 30 Mar 2011

    Bobanegra said:
    I own a Bocanegra and somehow managed to get this amplified engine noise turned off, by mistake of course, when I put it in for a service last year, 3 months and 7 trips back to the garage later it's only starting to sound like it's old self again but the noise seems stuck inside the engine bay rather than coming into the cabin as it did before - if these sub woofers that are creating the noise are underneath the windscreen is there a chance that these are being blocked or are disconnected from the cabin somehow?
    Just out of interest - as the owner ofa car that has amplified engine noise, does it make any difference to you whether the noise is coming mechanically from the engine or being produced by a computer and fed into speakers?

    BTW - I'm not having a poke at your choice of car, just genuinely interested.

  • Bobanegra 18 Mar 2011

    I own a Bocanegra and somehow managed to get this amplified engine noise turned off, by mistake of course, when I put it in for a service last year, 3 months and 7 trips back to the garage later it's only starting to sound like it's old self again but the noise seems stuck inside the engine bay rather than coming into the cabin as it did before - if these sub woofers that are creating the noise are underneath the windscreen is there a chance that these are being blocked or are disconnected from the cabin somehow?

  • CliveM 28 Feb 2011

    Chris-R said:
    All engine noises are 'engineered' one way or another these days, and exotic supercar soundtracks more than most. Can a line be so easily drawn between what's acceptable and what's 'fraudulent'?

    (That's a question, not a statement!) smile
    I know it's not straightforward, but for me at least the use of speakers is taking the piss. It seems lazy and patronising.


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