SEAT Leon Cupra 280: PH Fleet


In all honesty it wasn't that difficult a decision to make. There were two cars left to use for the Christmas break and the Leon didn't really get a look in. The other was a Fiesta ST with a few Revo extras, a real tyke of a hot hatch and something I couldn't really get enough of. The Leon was left over the festive period and it was in a sorry state come 2015; rusty discs, bird mess, leaves. Poor thing.

Superb car for B-roads. And everywhere really
Superb car for B-roads. And everywhere really
There will be more on the Fiesta in due course but it was intriguing to compare the two at a similar time. Of course they are a size class apart but their respective approaches to hot hatchery are clear too, particularly with the Revo tweaks to the Ford. The Leon covers all of the bases all of the time, comfortable when required and fun when the opportunity presents too. The Fiesta is far more focused (if you will excuse the Ford pun), turbo whistle, boomy exhaust and tough ride proving a bit tiresome on normal journeys. Obviously the other side of that is a level of excitement the SEAT can't match on the right road and a huge grin on the driver's face. I would wager the Leon's approach will appeal to more customers but as an enthusiast the Fiesta's comparative rawness left the more lasting impression.

Could that change with the Leon Performance Pack? We will find out soon. Hopefully. SEAT has said a Performance Packed hatch will be in the UK about March time which I am eagerly anticipating. Fingers crossed it has orange wheels too for a bit of visual punch.

But if you're just after fun...
But if you're just after fun...
It seems like a missed opportunity for the car to not have arrived a lot sooner though. It has been a long time since the Nurburgring lap announcement, plus the Megane Trophy-R has usurped it and arrived in the UK (to a wealth of praise) before the equivalent Leon. There's the Civic Type R looming as well. Let's hope it's worth the wait.

The arrival of an estate is intriguing too. It could be argued the Cupra's visual subtlety is more acceptable on an estate, and having enjoyed our Focus ST long-termer it will be interesting to see how SEAT has gone about producing a rival.

As far as day-to-day goes with the Leon, it been business as usual. Which means very good. Its first big journey in 2015 was for a weekend away in Leeds where it, yet again, was terrific throughout. The nav was clear and diverted around traffic well, with a very clear dial display making up for a fairly small central screen. The ride, particularly after that Fiesta, was excellent. And when the A1 became too boring and the B660 was the tempting alternative, it was superb. Fast and composed with great traction despite very wintry conditions.

Q-car or just too plain?
Q-car or just too plain?
Still though, despite good experiences from other publications, I've only seen one more Leon Cupra around this month. That makes it three in total I think. There are even more vRS Octavias about, or so it seems. I'm still struggling to find a reason why so would love to hear a few opinions. Does it just need some bright colours to sell? Has the Golf GTI become so desirable that the Leon isn't even considered? Could a diesel Cupra perhaps bring a little more interest?

By next month I will have driven the estate and the new Focus ST which should create plenty to discuss. I also must try the PH NotImpreza soon also. Both offer a lot of fun for about £30K, one now appearing quite old-school in its methods and the other representing how far modern FWD hatches have come. To be continued!


FACT SHEET
Car:
 SEAT Leon Cupra 280
Run by: Matt
On fleet since: July 2014
Mileage: 7,466
List price new: £26,945 before options (£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).
Last month at a glance: New year but the same old plus points for the Leon Cupra

Previous reports:
A 280hp Leon arrives, all discussion is on the damn paint
Against racer and hot hatch nemesis the Leon does just fine
Quick and capable yes, but could it be more so?
Slower Cupra battles faster Cupra. Wins. Huh?
Cupra driven by others, verdicts mostly positive
An Anglesey road trip plays to the Leon's many strengths

[Fiesta pic: Ben Lowden]

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Comments (30) Join the discussion on the forum

  • TNH 20 Jan 2015

    Personally I think the reason you don't see so many of these around compared to previous generations is because it doesn't appear much cheaper than the Golf alternative. And most people would rather drive a VW than a Seat.

  • PK0001 20 Jan 2015

    TNH said:
    Personally I think the reason you don't see so many of these around compared to previous generations is because it doesn't appear much cheaper than the Golf alternative. And most people would rather drive a VW than a Seat.
    Agree

    Plus depreciation, looks and image and lease deals.

  • EricE 20 Jan 2015

    PK0001 said:
    TNH said:
    Personally I think the reason you don't see so many of these around compared to previous generations is because it doesn't appear much cheaper than the Golf alternative. And most people would rather drive a VW than a Seat.
    Agree

    Plus depreciation, looks and image and lease deals.
    I personally like the looks of the Leon Cupra better than the Golf R but you are right on all other accounts.
    Sportauto recently tested the Cupra with the Performance Package and found that it's slightly faster than a Golf R around the 'ring, so depreciation might turn these into a performance bargain. scratchchin

  • rob.e 20 Jan 2015

    Current and previous cars are vRS's. Next car will be a cupra.

    Why? You can't get the 280ps engine in the skoda, or the diff, or adaptive dampers.

    It's a shame the sub8 package and buckets are such expensive options - add those and its more than a golf R. SEAT should include those for free (or much lower cost as an option) and my guess is they'd sell a lot more Cupras.

  • Scottie - NW 20 Jan 2015

    Just checking this is still Pistonheads, as the article told us about the satnav and display BEFORE the handling.

    I know which one has priority for anyone who enjoys the thrill of driving.

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