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.
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.
Stage set it's time to drive them and see how they really compare...
SEAT LEON CUPRA SC 280
Engine: 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
MPG: 44.1 (NEDC combined)
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.
MEGANE RENAULTSPORT 275 TROPHY
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
MPG: 37.7mpg (NEDC combined)
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)
Photos: Tom Begley