PH Fleet Update: Seat Leon Cupra R


Mark Twain once said 'Golf is a good walk spoiled'. Nevertheless, car makers have been striving for a while now to ensure their products' boot spaces are big enough to fit a set of clubs.

Having grown up from the age of 9 on the golf course (Ah yes, the famous 'wild child of hole 8' - Ed) I often carry my bag in the back of my car, and so this recent trend is a boon to me.

Or it ought to be, After a break playing other sports I decided to start hitting small balls around again and grabbed my clubs to stick in the back of the PH Fleet Seat Leon Cupra R. To my surprise, no matter which way I manipulated the golf bag I just couldn't get it to fit.

Having taken out the driver I got the bag in the boot, but this still left the task of fitting in the big stick somewhere. Using the cavity behind the light unit I discovered I could get the thing to fit, but this caused another problem. Repeated use of the light space meant that the bulbs were being bumped a little too often than their usual life requires of them. Eventually the rear brake light gave up the ghost and decided to fail. Oh dear.


A quick dash to the local car parts place and, in exchange for £2.60, I had a new bulb. I may have been lucky in my last few years of motoring, but it has been a while since I have had to fiddle with light fittings. My old Subaru Impreza was a fiddly affair, with screws and spaces designed for much thinner hands than genetics has graced me.

Parked next to another punter in his older Fiesta trying to do the same bulb replacing task I peered into the space to see what tools I needed. Fortunately the dexterity of thumb and finger was all that was needed to remove the bulb holders, swap the old with the new and pop back in place. If I had a Formula One pit crew working on the tires I would have held my hand out before the final wheel man had done his nut up.

As I drove away I saw the poor Fiesta owner drop another screw on the floor while I set about enjoying what the Seat does best - fun, fast and hot hatch motoring - though that hatch just needs to be a little bigger.

Riggers writes...


Since RacingPete seems vaguely obsessed both by golf and brake lights at the moment, I thought I would add a little to this update by giving my thoughts on the Leon Cupra R. Especially following a recent run up to Aston Martin's Gaydon HQ (where it sat looking a little forlorn for a few days while I swanned off in a Virage).

As a fast motorway cruiser, apart from a moderately annoying flutter of wind noise from around the door mirrors and a frankly horribly dated dashboard, the Cupra is a pretty darn effective tool. It has fantastic seats, a great deal of gutsy, long-legged pace and isn't even too thirsty on fuel (from a PH point of view, of course).

Whether it cuts it as a decent hot hatch, however, I'm not so sure. It might be the most powerful roadgoing Seat ever, but for a brand whose strap line is 'Auto Emocion' it can be a curiously un-engaging car when you find an empty road with twisty bits in it.


Aside from the commendable choice of manual gearbox, it seems to me to be a little bit less involving than its Scirocco R cousin; less chuckable, less likely to make you want to go out and drive it for driving's sake.

It's not that it isn't fun, it's just that it isn't as much fun as you'd hope it to be. And in a bright yellow Seat, that just doesn't seem quite right.

Previous updates:
PH Fleet Update: Seat Cupra R
Geneva Show - From The Hot SEAT
PH Fleet Update: Merc C63 AMG And Leon Cupra R
PH Fleet Update: SEAT Leon Cupra R
PH Fleet: SEAT Leon Cupra R

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Comments (30) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Cupradan 20 Sep 2011

    mistergixer said:
    I'm amazed reading some of the comments on here. I had the Leon FR 550(a step down the rung from the Cupra), and it was one of the worst handling cars i've ever had the displeasure to drive - trying to make any sort of good progress resulted in either wheelspin, understeer or torque steer, none of which i consider to be positive characteristics.
    I would've thought that putting more power through the front wheels would only amplify the negatives. Reading the glowing posts here, it would appear that my supposition is incorrect.
    What you have to bear in mind is that the FR550 has a big, heavy diesel lump in the front. The chassis is the same as the MK5 Golf GTI, and that has been up there in terms of good handling cars.

  • idjbell 19 Sep 2011

    Problem is ...if you want 5 doors for the little ones, what else do you get?

    S3- that'll be nearly 3 years old at this price. Golf GTI...two years old. Golf R...don't be silly. Golf R32/Subaru STI....tax and petrol- that'll be a brave decision.

    Focus/Megane/Civic...all 3 door only, better- maybe, but still 2 doors short of a family car.

    If you want a modern 5 door hot hatch Seat seem to have it pretty much covered. The only other option would be the Octavia VRS but it'll be a brave man at VW HQ who signs off giving them the 260bhp motor....


  • mistergixer 19 Sep 2011

    I'm amazed reading some of the comments on here. I had the Leon FR 550(a step down the rung from the Cupra), and it was one of the worst handling cars i've ever had the displeasure to drive - trying to make any sort of good progress resulted in either wheelspin, understeer or torque steer, none of which i consider to be positive characteristics.
    I would've thought that putting more power through the front wheels would only amplify the negatives. Reading the glowing posts here, it would appear that my supposition is incorrect.


  • Mr. Potato Head 19 Sep 2011

    cuprabob said:
    I'd take a MK1 over a MK2
    Me too. Sows ear out of a silk purse and all that

  • Mastodon2 18 Sep 2011

    I had a MK1 Cupra R remapped to about 265bhp and it was great. It had a very hard, aggressive feel to it, and when it came on boost it pulled very, very hard with minimal fuss for a FWD car. If you were trying to get the power down on patchy roads it might tug a little, but otherwise it was generally free of torque steer. The steering was heavy and you could feel the heft of the car in the corners, but it had loads of grip, so it could pretty much demolish challenging roads. The standard ones are supposed to be very smooth and fairly lag-free, the map on mine was pretty old school. A fair bit of lag, then WHOOOSH, all the boost kicked in at once, then it really did take off. Progress was rarely smooth but it was very quick!

    In terms of involvement, driver reward etc it's perhaps not the highest, I think Honda do that best. Against it's turbo powered peers like the Golf GTI, the Focus ST etc, it's a great option. It's cheap, comfortable on a cruising drive (unless I was on bumpy roads!) and I got 32mpg from mine on average. They are also a bit rarer than the ST and the GTI. A great hot hatch option if you ask me!

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