RE: Seat Leon Cupra R: Driven

RE: Seat Leon Cupra R: Driven

Tuesday 28th November 2017

SEAT Leon Cupra R: Driven

Getting a (little too much of a) grip on SEAT's new 310hp flagship



So this is the new Leon Cupra R - the culmination of numerous incremental sharpenings of a car SEAT first introduced in 265hp form three years ago. It's a limited-run offering that costs £34,995 (yes...) and promises to raise the current hottest Leon of the crop, the Cupra 300, to quicker, more capable and more desirable heights.

Beyond headline figures of 310hp and 280lb ft, first impressions are that in creating the Cupra R, SEAT hasn't so much slid off the Cupra 300's invisibility cloak but thrown it to the ground, doused it in kerosene and set it alight. The cars at the launch event near Barcelona were painted matt black - UK examples will possess a more subtle hue, with only metallic black and grey on offer - but the design details ensure that, with this particular iteration at least, the Leon's Q-car days are behind it.


The door mirrors, intake blades of a redesigned front bumper and 19-inch alloy wheels are thrown into relief with copper paint, and there's a substantial carbon rear spoiler (or is it technically a wing?) complemented by a diffuser which houses exhaust tips suspiciously similar to those of the Golf GTI. The side skirts have also been dramatically flared, and you can't miss that front splitter, which in all honesty wouldn't look too bad on a Huracán Performante. Rugged, if a little crudely tacked on, wheel arches complete the R5 rally vibe, and they've allowed SEAT to widen the donor car's track by 20mm, both front and rear.

The resulting aesthetic is as likely to delight as it is to appall, but with only 24 cars out of a total production run of 799 (for now, says SEAT) destined for the UK, the Cupra R should find enough fans willing to stump up. The interior, it must be said, is a success, with Alcantara trim for the wheel and gearstick, restrained copper detailing, decently supportive (but still too high!) buckets and an engraving of the car's production number on the transmission tunnel. To these eyes the silver-backed dials also look cool in a faintly 1990s kind of way.


Given the Cupra R shares its engine map with the Golf GTI Clubsport S, straight-line speed is predictably rapid. In this state of tune VW Group's EA888 2.0-litre TSI pulls off the trick of developing peak torque at just 1,800rpm and peak power between 5,800 and 6,500rpm, which is delectably close to the red line for a low-displacement turbo engine. On paper it's good for 62mph in 5.8 seconds, with the DSG version (which isn't coming to the UK) snipping a tenth from that. With the current limitations of tyre technology, you won't go much quicker in a front-driven hot hatch.

The chassis, meanwhile, gets retuned DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) dampers that are switchable through four modes - as are the throttle response characteristics and the front axle's VAQ electronic 'differential'. Cupra is the most aggressive, and prompts the exhaust system to crackle gently on the overrun (preserving an element of authenticity, there's no synthesised sound wafted into the cabin).


On these relatively smooth roads the ride is undeniably stiff - substantially firmer than in a Golf R - and softens only adequately in Comfort mode, which raises interesting questions concerning the Cupra R's suitably for the UK. Naturally enough, the payback comes at speed, when you're served with precise, close body control that does a magnificent job of taking the car's 1,453kg heft out of the equation. Even with the suspension loaded up the chassis still delivers genuinely superb pliancy and stability - the sort that prompts you to chase the throttle at every opportunity.

As the roads out here are also relatively warm, and dry, SEAT has shod the cars with the £855 optional Cup 2 tyre (the Continental SportContact6 is standard). Quite simply, they dominate the driving experience. A degree more negative camber for the more widely spaced front wheels and a recalibration of the variable rack have given the steering a marginally more natural feel than in the Cupra 300, and response feels a touch quicker just off centre, not that it needed to. Front-axle grip, however, is frankly eye-popping, and on turn-in triggers a sequence that starts almost uncomfortably quickly and ends with the nonchalant pummelling of more than 300hp into terra firma once you've spliced through the apex. Point-to-point, on these roads, it's difficult to imagine anything much more effective that doesn't cost more than £100,000.


Difficulties, alas, lurk in the triggering. The Cupra has always suffered from over-servoed brakes and it's no different here, the first sniff of pedal pressure causing the car to almost flinch as the black Brembo calipers grip the 370mm front discs unexpectedly hard. Delicacy? Not here, which given the pace of the thing results in quite a substantial blotting of the Cupra R's otherwise clean copybook.

Is it a copybook worth all that money? Well, no, probably not, if you're going to be objective about it. A low-mileage GTI Clubsport S can be had for roughly the same outlay, is more engaging, and does the hardcore hot hatch thing with greater conviction. A Honda Civic Type R, meanwhile, is significantly less expensive and more warmly invites you to get your hands dirty behind the wheel, so to speak. You won't sacrifice practicality in the Japanese car, either, which you will in the two-seater Volkswagen.

The margins are fine, though, and we don't imagine those 24 UK buyers will be anything other than delighted. The rest of us will have to hold out for a Leon with a little less exclusivity and that's a little less dear but benefits from the same successful chassis modifications. Call it the Cupra 310.

Inspired? Buy a SEAT Leon Cupra here


SPECIFICATION - SEAT LEON CUPRA R

Engine: 1,984cc, 4-cylinder turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 310@5,800-6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@1,800-5,700rpm
0-62mph: 5.8sec
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,453kg
MPG: 38.7 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 170g/km
Price: £34,995

Richard Lane

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

GTEYE

Original Poster:

1,089 posts

138 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Those 24 buyers won't be so pleased when they come to sell....then they'll wish they'd done the sensible thing and bought a Golf R.

Depreciation might be an issue on this I fear.

Axionknight

8,292 posts

63 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
The topic has been up over an hour and there's now two comments on the subject......... The crowd goes mild!

Mike335i

1,434 posts

30 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Just not enough to to be a full fat R I'm afraid. I'm sure it is a lovely motor, but I want yellow, a power hike and maybe just a little surprise.

Loyly

16,011 posts

87 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
The interior looks really smart, what a shame the rest of it can't manage the same. I wonder if it'll be too stiff for the usual British B road.

Helicopter123

2,603 posts

84 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
A Golf R can be had for £28k on Broadspeed.

Thread Ends.
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Jonno02

1,716 posts

37 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Disappointed. Less is more with the bronze. a 10ps power hike, awful golf exhaust tips (keep the bit meaty ovals please) and an overall feeling of meh. Should have at least have the '4WD' of the golf. Cupra of this generation looks better than a Golf R(but then again so does a dry piece of bread). 10k discount and I'd be interested. Normally on the Cupra's you can get them for about 23k from brokers, there'll be no discount on these. Pass.

phil4

281 posts

166 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Jonno02 said:
Should have at least have the '4WD' of the golf. Cupra of this generation looks better than a Golf R
VW have a strict hierarchy to maintain. A Cupra R cannot be faster than a Golf R, which in turns cannot be faster than a Audi S3 etc. etc. etc.

They've already allowed it to have 310 bhp, and the 280 torques the same as the Golf R, to give it 4WD also would put it on the same footing as the Golf R and ruin the hierarchy. It's contrived, annoying and so artificial, but it's there.

the 4WD would push the price up further too.

AlrightYouns

2,243 posts

20 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Brakes too sharp?

If they balanced them and turned down the force slightly people would winge they're inadequate.

rolleyes

wab172uk

962 posts

155 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
phil4 said:
VW have a strict hierarchy to maintain. A Cupra R cannot be faster than a Golf R, which in turns cannot be faster than a Audi S3 etc. etc. etc.

They've already allowed it to have 310 bhp, and the 280 torques the same as the Golf R, to give it 4WD also would put it on the same footing as the Golf R and ruin the hierarchy. It's contrived, annoying and so artificial, but it's there.

the 4WD would push the price up further too.
The Golf R is just as quick as the S3, as they are the same platform, same drivetrain, and carry the same AWD system.

Once rolling the Cupra R will accelerate faster than both the S3 and Golf R, as without the AWD system it'll be lighter.

Just like once rolling, the Civic Type R is faster than the Focus RS.

AWD just gives the car all weather capabilities, which a lot of people (me included) like. All the power, all the time.

Mike335i

1,434 posts

30 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Glad it stuck to fwd though, should be more entertaining than another golf r clone.

philmots

4,453 posts

188 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
At least it’s a decent drive...

But like others have said the regular 300 will be available for 10k less or like mine, a ridiculously cheap lease deal!

Don’t get the love of 4wd, if it was a rear biased system I’d get it but the S3 7R system is the exact opposite! The fwd of the 300 gives it character, and makes it a bit of a challenge to get the best from, Just like a high powered rwd car.

cossers

1,362 posts

68 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Were the designers on strike?

loose cannon

4,729 posts

169 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Matt grey and cooper coloured badges laugh
The first Leon cupra r makes this thing look irrelevant

AlrightYouns

2,243 posts

20 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
loose cannon said:
Matt grey and cooper coloured badges laugh
The first Leon cupra r makes this thing look irrelevant



Any excuse to post a picture of mine for comparison

driving


givablondabone

2,402 posts

83 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
I'm a SEAT fan having previously owned a new MK1 Cupra and a used MK2 FR btcc but regardless of how capable this will be objectively, I am struggling to see any reason why someone would pay this much for one of these.

But then again I have never given a stuff about the kudos of owning a 'limited' edition, especially when the otherwise 'run of the mill' model is so capable.

SEAT can keep this and anyone who might buy one as an 'investment' can go poke it.


Gameface

1,881 posts

5 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
I prefer SEAT's to some of their more mainstream rivals but I'm amazed manufacturers are still making cars with matte paint.

A flash in the pan fad that should be consigned to history.

ZX10R NIN

10,191 posts

53 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Golf R comparisons are off you should be thinking along the lines of a Clubsport S this is a more focused drivers car rather than a all rounder that the Golf R is.

Glasgowrob

1,772 posts

49 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all


oh dear Seat,

you got it spot on the first time,

loved our old one, aggressive mapping with a straight through 3" exhaust and some induction modifications. some choice suspension tweaks and It was perfect.

might just run off to the classifieds and see what I can find

givablondabone

2,402 posts

83 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
Glasgowrob said:


oh dear Seat,

you got it spot on the first time,

loved our old one, aggressive mapping with a straight through 3" exhaust and some induction modifications. some choice suspension tweaks and It was perfect.

might just run off to the classifieds and see what I can find
Nice car .

You wouldn't be guilty of cleaning it whilst on duty at the FS would you now....? wink

nickfrog

8,455 posts

145 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
wab172uk said:
AWD just gives the car all weather capabilities, which a lot of people (me included) like. All the power, all the time.
AWD will certainly give you more traction, but no more lateral grip or braking capability. I am not sure 4wd will allow to deploy all the power when friction is inherently limited, whether in the wet or the snow. I don't think traction becomes limitless unless you're well within the traction circle, which sounds about right for road use.

To go back OT, I think the merit of this car, like the Golf CS, is to NOT be 4wd.