Forgotten Hot Hatches: Seat Leon Cupra R

Jack of all trades, master of none. It's a horrible cliché, and one that gets bandied about far too frequently, especially by those people prone to a spot of false modesty. Except that, in the case of the Seat Leon Cupra R, it is kind of applicable.

But please don't think of this as too much of a criticism. Sure, none of the hyper-Leon's abilities is class-leading. In fact there are some areas (particularly the dashboard, with its tacky plastics and confusing layout) that would leave you feeling short-changed if you'd spent £15k on a base model, let alone £26k for the bells-and-whistles flagship.

But - and it's a big but - the way the Seat combines the ability to cover long distances in comfort (and moderate economy - we've seen an easy 30mpg-plus on long runs) with a serious turn of speed is most impressive. Chuck in okay-to-decent handling (it's gamely understeer-resistant but not actually all that adjustable) and you've got a mighty appealing car.

Yes, there are rivals that do things better, and no, that trick electronic XDS quasi-differential isn't quite as good as a conventional manual limited-slip diff. But the Leon Cupra R is more than just an also-ran in a mighty talented class, and it deserves recognition as such.


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