Megane 275 Trophy vs Leon Cupra 280

Lord be praised; an opportunity has arisen to compare the Megane 275 Trophy and LeonCupra 280 without reference to lap times around That German Racetrack. Other than the one just made there.

A bit of Bedfordshire B-road included in test
A bit of Bedfordshire B-road included in test
It's quite liberating actually. For all those reckoning the 'ring laps were an irrelevance obscured by marketing smoke and mirrors (and possibly a bit of cheeky engineering'prep'on the side) we've got a chance to drive the two back to back somewhere owners may well do the same. So we've got Bedford Autodrome - your classic track day venue - and the conveniently close-by B660 for the essential B-road blast.

In the Spanish corner we've got Matt's PH Fleet SEAT, a three-door 280 with a manual gearbox and the standard electronically adjustable dampers and active VAQ 'diff'. You can also get the three-door in 265hp form - matching the non-Trophy Megane's baseline horsepower figure - while five-door Cupras are all 280s. Unlike the Renault there's the option of an automated dual-clutch too on all 280s. Base price of a manual Leon like this is £26,945, Matt's car coming in at £29,965 thanks to a bunch of adaptive this and assist that fripperies. See his PH Fleet intro for the full breakdown but none of the extras applied actually have any bearing on the way the car drives. Once you turn them all off at least.

Summer downpour made track 'interesting'
Summer downpour made track 'interesting'
Not quite the same can be said of the Megane. Philosophically fromage to the SEAT's chalk, it's the (whisper it) analogue alternative to the SEAT's digitally enhanced delights with its mechanical limited-slip diff and passive dampers. Much of the fuss about the Trophy's dynamic ability centres on the optional Ohlins dampers and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres ... neither of which are fitted to our test car.

Before options the Trophy costs nearly two grand more than the SEAT at £28,930 and as tested it's a burly £31,325, though after options the gap closes to just £60. Opt for the full package of 5kg lighter Speedline Turini 19-inch wheels (£1,000), Ohlins package (£2,000) and the Cup 2 tyres (£1,000) and the Megane is well into Golf R and Audi S3 territory. Cue forum outrage at the temerity of Renault to charge more than £30K for a Megane... In fairness the Trophy spec does include most of the goodies you'd want, including a standard Akrapovic exhaust, the desirable Recaro seats and the stiffer Cup chassis with the LSD.

It's a battle for hot hatch heart and soul!
It's a battle for hot hatch heart and soul!
Even in that context the SEAT is looking like something of a bargain but, of course, to unlock its full track potential you'll need the as-yet unconfirmed performance pack with the bigger Brembo brakes and Cup 2 tyres. Add DSG and the Leon will be well over £30K too. But as it stands the comparison between these two particular cars - effectively in their 'base' mechanical specs without the extras required to achieve those lap times - is a fair one.

Stage set it's time to drive them and see how they really compare...

1,984cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual (6-speed DSG optional), front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 280@ 5,700-6,200rpm (265@5,350-6,600rpm)*
Torque (lb ft): 258@1,750-5,600rpm (258@1,750-5,300rpm)*
0-62mph: 5.8 (5.9)*
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,375kg
MPG: 44.1 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 149g/km
Price: £26,940 (£29,650 as tested, comprising Leather Pack with Winter Pack £755, Driver Assist Pack including high beam and lane assist £295, Safety Pack £115, SEAT Sound System £250, Adaptive Cruise Control and front assist £500, space saver £95 and Dynamic Custom paint £695).

*Figures for the 265, where different, in brackets. DSG only available on the 280 - 0-62mph reduced by a tenth and MPG to 42.2 as well as adding 20kg, 6g/km and £1,285.

Engine: 1,998cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, mechanical limited-slip differential, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 275@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 265@3,000-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 6.0 sec
Top speed: 158mph
Weight: 1,376kg
MPG: 37.7mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 174g/km
Price: £28,930 (£31,325 as tested, comprising 19-inch Speedline Turini wheels/Bridgestone RE050A tyres £1,000, Liquid Yellow paint £1,300 and emergency spare wheel £95)

Introduction and comments
Megane Renaultsport 275 Trophy
SEAT Leon Cupra 280


Photos: Tom Begley

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (61) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Dan Trent 30 Jul 2014

    Before we get into the '£30K for a Megane?!!!!' or 'You could have an M135 for that...' stuff if you've got a view on how we present these multi-car tests I've set up a poll in website feedback - click here and let us know your views.



  • ST150HB 30 Jul 2014

    I really like where Seat have gone with the new Leon, looks like a really decent car. Not sure if i'd ever get the opportunity to compare the two though frown

  • PunterCam 30 Jul 2014

    While £30k is a lot of money, £30k for the best front wheel drive performance car you can buy is hardly unreasonable, considering that the best four wheel drive or rear wheel drive performance car might be £700k-£1million depending on your definition of "best".

    I think Renault continue to make mini 911 GT3 style cars (although it's sad the engines are now bland), with focussed styling, proper seats and properly thought out and developed chassis.

    Personally I think the current "best" level is not expensive enough though (I mean, I like the price, but the format is hardly being maxed here). A hatchback is a wonderfully practical shape of car. Why isn't there a carbon tubbed, exotic (or at least highly tuned) engined, precision machined, 1100kg, ultra desirable hatch on the market? £50k, or £60k. But it's the absolute best hatchback, unequivocally, that you can buy. Something that actually felt special.

    The reason is snobbery, obviously, but I wish someone would do it. They wouldn't be able to make enough.

  • WCZ 30 Jul 2014

    you tested the megane trophy without the trophy dampers? :/

    it's beyond me why anyone would buy that car without speccing them

  • GTEYE 30 Jul 2014

    Truth be told, £30k would not be wisely invested in either of this pair.

    Doesn't make them bad cars though, but perhaps better leased, or wait until someone else has taken some of the initial hit.

    It would be a Golf R for me.

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