RE: Shed of the Week: SEAT Leon Cupra

RE: Shed of the Week: SEAT Leon Cupra

Friday 9th February

Shed of the Week: SEAT Leon Cupra

A standard, swift and stylish SEAT rows Sheds gears



In his job, Shed spends a lot of time looking at online MOT histories. Well, it keeps him off the streets and it stops him looking at much worse online stuff, such as the Donald Trump thread on PH. Plus, MOT histories can tell a story that, with a little imagination, can be every bit as gripping as the sort you might find in your actual paid-for book.

There is a lot of boring stuff there though. Case in point being the odd lingo used to describe upcoming problems, or advisories as they are more popularly known. After poring over possibly thousands of these histories, one phrase has become a sort of earworm for Shed, or eyeworm if you're being pedantic, and it is this: 'constant velocity joint gaiter deteriorated, but preventing the ingress of dirt'. Shed would be willing to bet most of next year's pension on this being the most frequently bashed-in code on the typical MOT tester's oil-caked keyboard.


According to the MOT advisories, the CV gaiters on this week's Leon Cupra Shed have been cheerily preventing dirt ingress, despite their deteriorated state, for at least the last three years. This makes you wonder about (a) the definition of deterioration; (b) the mysterious material these gaiters are made from, and their possible suitability for trousering and other tailoring applications; and (c) the record length of time for ignoring MOT advisories. Surprised there isn't some sort of statute of limitations on them; you know, three ignores and it's a fail, something like that. Not that we want to give the authorities any ideas, so answers on a postcard (if they still exist) to someone else please.

Right, back to the Leon. As any fuel kno, this model of Leon was basically a Mk4 Golf with a different coat on. It was launched in 1997 and, following the arrival of no objections, went on sale in 1998.

The 210hp Leon Cupra R is a great car. It finished 7th in Autocar's 2010 'best hot hatch of all time' reader poll. Unfortunately, Rs don't pop up in SOTW's sub-£1,500 bracket, but the 180hp 20V does a pretty decent impersonation. Tipping the scales at 1300kg or so, it's a practical 140mph front-drive five-seater with a nice big boot, 40mpg on a cruise, and very acceptable handling. Only the braking is on the edge of not good enough if you're planning on giving it the berries everywhere.


This one has lots of nice mats in it, which if you were cynical might get you mulling over the potential state of the Leon's floors, as they are known for getting damp and/or rusty. Put that down to the unusual choice of Haribo as a material for the door seals.

On your way to lifting up the mats, you'll need to open the back doors. Sounds easy, but might not be, as malfunctioning doors are another notorious Leon foible. Sometimes it's a loose cable behind the door card: sometimes you can get in by giving the handle a sharp community-approved whack with a rolled-up newspaper, furled umbrella or good old-fashioned flat of the hand.

If the turbo seems a bit down on pressure, it could well be that the coil packs are on the way out. Many of the packs fitted as original equipment on Leons and Golfs of this era wouldn't have passed muster on a pedal car, let alone one powered by an engine.

Clutches tend to wilt after 80k miles or so, and the one on this car has lived up to that billing almost perfectly by expiring (and being replaced) at 84k. The four-year/60k replacement cycle cambelt is a motor-busting trap lying in wait for the unwary, so again it's good to see that our Shed received a new one just 10,000 miles ago, especially as this can be a slightly longer/more expensive job on the 1.8 20-valvers.


Mass air flow sensors and throttle bodies get dirty and the suspension top mounts can fail. Water enters in the area of the rear lamps and door bottoms. If the rear washer doesn't seem to be working but there's a funny damp smell in the air it means the bloomin' pipe has come off again. That's an annoyance familiar to owners of Mk4 Golfs as well as Leons.

In a joyous SpaceX kinda mood, what with Cupra about to separate itself from the main SEAT launch vehicle and shoot off into orbit as its own brand, maybe the values of old Cupras will go up. Well, maybe not. But you can always hope. In the meantime, just park your elbow on the Leon's door ledge and hum a bit of Bowie.

Here's the ad.

Family friendly hot-hatch.
Golf GTi Mk 4's better looking Spanish cousin.
Better performance, handling, boot space and looks than GTi.
FSH, 104k miles, in regular use, Mot to Aug, no advisories, full cambelt and water pump replaced @ 94k, Full clutch @ 84k, No mods.
Drives well and looks great. Interior clean, floor mats, tailored boot protector mat.
Alpine head unit, amplifier and sub-woofer in boot. Upgraded speakers.
A/C climate control, remote central locking.
Minor age-related marks, no rust.
Good Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres all-round.

 

 

Author
Discussion

2 GKC

Original Poster:

390 posts

34 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
Nothing ruins a dashboard like an after market stereo

I'll pass on this one

alorotom

4,358 posts

116 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
Except seat of this vintage have shockingly bland interiors!

These just scream council to me ... normally seen with tinted lights, dented bodies, crappy ‘zorst

Not a fan I have to admit

Nickp82

990 posts

22 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
alorotom said:
Except seat of this vintage have shockingly bland interiors!

These just scream council to me ... tinted lights, dented bodies, crappy ‘zorst

Not a fan I have to admit
The incorrect alloys, unpainted splitter, weird chrome grill bits and aftermarket stereo don't help this one. A nice standard one would make a good buy though, from what I remember they drive well and feel brisk when pushing on.

SlowV6

175 posts

68 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
Is that definitely a real Cupra and not a homemade one? It has wrong wheels (from the facelift) chrome bits on the grill, missing boot badges and the DVLA site isn't even sure!

I do like these and loved ours years ago but would pass on this one. We never saw anywhere near 40mpg on a run in ours but that's because it just wanted to you to drive it like you had stole it everywhere.

Just happened to be looking at AT for the next model Cupra last night. 237BHP....

Blackpuddin

7,737 posts

134 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
Damn these people for not maintaining their cheap everyday motors in totally original condition! smile
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givablondabone

2,428 posts

84 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
I ran this engine in a mk1 Octy vRS for 5 years from 42k to 126k witha Revo map too.

Never needed a clutch, coil pack, maf or exhaust.

Did need two front wheel bearings and a door lock solenoid though. Good engine imho. Also had a tdi 150 Cupra new in 2004 and even on that I can vouch for the rear door seals.....................

MadDog1962

741 posts

91 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
That's a pretty decent car for only 1200 quid. Although I've never warmed to the SEAT front grille styling, they drive just as well as their VW cousins.

I like the fact it's unmodified apart from the stereo, and the service history on the major items is comforting. I bet it'll be sold quickly.


culpz

3,658 posts

41 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
I'd much prefer one of these over a MK4 Golf GTI. I think they look really nice too, probably one of the best ever variations of the Leon, IMO. I'm not sure i'd buy this particular example though. A lad in my work has a black diesel one that's been lowered, had some tasteful alloys put on and had alot of engine work done to it. I'm sure it's running around 240 bhp.

The badging always confused me, as you can also get these in FR trim but they look exactly the same with the exact same offering of engines, in both facelift and pre-facelift guise. Bit odd really. Also, aren't they known to leak quite badly too, due to crap seals? The engines seem a bit hit and miss aswell and apparently go through coil packs regularly.

For the money they can be had at, they are good value.


GeordieInExile

473 posts

49 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
I always liked the look of the Toledos of this vintage a bit more, the proportions work better for me with the boot.

They seem to be cheaper than their Leon cousins, as well.

Blackpuddin

7,737 posts

134 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
Slightly OT but there's an Ibiza diesel round our way that's clearly had some serious money spent on the mechanicals, saw it tramping up the road in a ridiculously high gear, freakish.

sgtBerbatov

677 posts

10 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
Hat trick of bland sheds. Have we reached peak Shed?

Also regarding advisories. When I bought my Corolla 2 years ago I looked at it's history. For 10 years it had an oil leak on the gearbox as an advisory.

10 years.

And it turned out to be a driveshaft seal, not the inner engine oil seal. Brilliant, so I replaced it and put the gearbox back. I come back to it a week later (having not driven it as it's in the middle of "restoration") I notice some black oil now on the gearbox.

The engine drive seal needs replacing now. So off with the gearbox I go again...

MrAverage

556 posts

56 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
I owned one of these, also an 02 plate.

As a 19 year old I loved the speed but the car itself was a dog. Always needed something doing before eventually the gearbox what itself (fortunately done under warranty).

My mate had a golf GTi at the same time, it had loads more miles on the clock but wore them much better.

I personally wouldn't buy another one, if you must have this engine I'd look seriously at the golf or Octavia.

Blackpuddin

7,737 posts

134 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
sgtBerbatov said:
Hat trick of bland sheds
By definition Sheds are rarely going to be as fascinating and/or cool as we might want them to be because fascinating/cool cars don't get put up for sale for beer money.

GTEYE

1,142 posts

139 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
Technically this isn't a Cupra its a 1.8 20VT - the Cupra designation didn't come in until the facelift on the "52" plate.

This one has clearly been "updated" to pass it off as the later model....

J4CKO

24,138 posts

129 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
Meh, sort of alright, but for not much more, if you like aged 1.8 T engine VAG things and still for shed money you can have a MK1 TT, the full fat 225 engine, you get a much nicer interior, concept car looks and 4WD, obviously only any good if you dont need rear seats but its a much nicer, better made (well better finished car).

Dont think at TT has ever been SOTW, must be due and quite happy to write the article as well !

2 GKC

Original Poster:

390 posts

34 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
culpz said:
I'd much prefer one of these over a MK4 Golf GTI. I think they look really nice too, probably one of the best ever variations of the Leon, IMO. I'm not sure i'd buy this particular example though. A lad in my work has a black diesel one that's been lowered, had some tasteful alloys put on and had alot of engine work done to it. I'm sure it's running around 240 bhp.

The badging always confused me, as you can also get these in FR trim but they look exactly the same with the exact same offering of engines, in both facelift and pre-facelift guise. Bit odd really. Also, aren't they known to leak quite badly too, due to crap seals? The engines seem a bit hit and miss aswell and apparently go through coil packs regularly.

For the money they can be had at, they are good value.
Is it possible to "have some tasteful alloys put on?" Not sure I've ever seen an after market set of alloys which didn't make a car look worse

Blackpuddin

7,737 posts

134 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
J4CKO said:
Meh, sort of alright, but for not much more, if you like aged 1.8 T engine VAG things and still for shed money you can have a MK1 TT, the full fat 225 engine, you get a much nicer interior, concept car looks and 4WD, obviously only any good if you dont need rear seats but its a much nicer, better made (well better finished car).

Dont think at TT has ever been SOTW, must be due and quite happy to write the article as well !
They are about for under £1500 for sure but whether you'd want one at that price is another matter.

Phil Dicky

5,182 posts

192 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
2 GKC said:
Nothing ruins a dashboard like an after market stereo

I'll pass on this one
You know you could remove the after market one and replace it with the crap spec original and make a few quid smile ?

culpz

3,658 posts

41 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
2 GKC said:
culpz said:
I'd much prefer one of these over a MK4 Golf GTI. I think they look really nice too, probably one of the best ever variations of the Leon, IMO. I'm not sure i'd buy this particular example though. A lad in my work has a black diesel one that's been lowered, had some tasteful alloys put on and had alot of engine work done to it. I'm sure it's running around 240 bhp.

The badging always confused me, as you can also get these in FR trim but they look exactly the same with the exact same offering of engines, in both facelift and pre-facelift guise. Bit odd really. Also, aren't they known to leak quite badly too, due to crap seals? The engines seem a bit hit and miss aswell and apparently go through coil packs regularly.

For the money they can be had at, they are good value.
Is it possible to "have some tasteful alloys put on?" Not sure I've ever seen an after market set of alloys which didn't make a car look worse
Absolutely. Just don't look at the pathetic, basic brands like Fox Racing or whatever they're called.

It's a bit like tyres. Budget ones are generally ste but there are some much better branded ones out there.

It's all subjective, but i can see you're very much an OEM type of version, given your first comment about the aftermarket stereo.

Edited by culpz on Friday 9th February 11:10

SlowV6

175 posts

68 months

Friday 9th February
quotequote all
GTEYE said:
Technically this isn't a Cupra its a 1.8 20VT - the Cupra designation didn't come in until the facelift on the "52" plate.

This one has clearly been "updated" to pass it off as the later model....
This isn't correct. The Cupra came first with leather electric seats and some other extras like folding mirrors. The 20VT came 2nd with cloth seats and lost a couple of other bits to get the price down to £14995. Dealers then proceeded to stick Cupra badges on the 20VTs, which were mechanically identical.