SEAT Leon Cupra Ups The Ante

The all-new SEAT Leon Cupra is finally here and it’s set to give the likes of the Renaultsport Megane, Focus ST and Astra VXR a run for their money.

Is It Faster?

You bet! In fact, it’s now the fastest production car that SEAT has ever produced, stealing the crown from the previous Cupra R. Every model in the range takes less than 6 seconds to hit 60mph and they’ll all reach a maximum of 155mph. Torque’s the same across the board with a thumping 258lb/ft available from 1,750 to 5,300rpm.

It’s the power outputs that differ slightly. The entry-level model is the three-door manual SC with 262bhp but every other version gets 276bhp as standard, regardless of door count (you can have five doors) or transmission (manual or dual-clutch automatic).

Weight savings mean the new Cupra is 55kg lighter than the old model and that, along with Start/Stop and Energy Recovery systems, helps to improve the economy and CO2 figures. Pick a manual Cupra and official figures say you can expect 44mpg and only 149g/km. Choose the DSG transmission and you can enjoy faster acceleration but take a slight hit on the economy.

Oh, and like it or not, the Cupra comes with a sound actuator to enhance the noise from the engine and exhaust.

Comfort And Speed

SEAT are keen to stress that the Cupra will feel at home on both road and track. That’s not as bold a claim as you might think as the Cupra comes with a specially-tuned version of the FR’s Dynamic Chassis Control. Using the Cupra Driver Profile you can switch between Comfort mode for a softer ride, Sport mode for more control, or full-fat Cupra mode. This sharpens throttle response, reduces the shift time of the DSG ‘box, and tweaks the sound actuator to make the engine tone more noticeable. At the same time the chassis switches to its firmest setting, the steering is meatier and the front-axle differential lock is set to its sportiest setting.

That front diff-lock will certainly come in handy on both road and track, improving traction on the front axle under acceleration. It means you’ll be able to give the Cupra a damn good thrashing on track while making it less of a handful on damp and crumbling roads.

A new progressive steering rack also improves responses from the nose. The variable gearing means that fewer turns are required from lock-to-lock, making it easier to park, but also makes the car feel more responsive as less steering input is required at speed. It might sound unusual but it’s the same system as fitted to the new Golf GTI and it works remarkably well.

More Equipment

Added to the trimmings of the Leon FR are 18-inch alloy wheels, full-LED headlights, DAB digital radio, SEAT Media System Plus, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights. Upgrade to the Cupra 280 and you’ll get satellite navigation too.

Telling the Cupra 265 and Cupra 280 apart should be easy. The 280 gets 19-inch wheels with a titanium paint finish that cover red brake callipers bearing the Cupra logo, while black highlights inside and out complete the look.

How Much Is It?

Prices start at £25,690 for the 265PS 3-door. Order books are open now and deliveries begin in March.

ModelSC CupraSC Cupra 280SC Cupra 280Cupra 280Cupra 280
Doors33355
TransmissionManualManualDSGManualDSG
Engine2.0 TSI2.0 TSI2.0 TSI2.0 TSI2.0 TSI
Power (PS / bhp)265/262280/276280/276280/276280/276
Torque (Nm /lb.ft)350/258350/258350/258350/258350/258
Kerb Weight (kg)1,3951,3951,4211,4151,441
MPG44.144.142.244.142.2
Top Speed155155155155155
0-62 mph (s)5.95.85.75.85.7
CO2149149155149155
VEDFFGFG
Price£25,690£26,940£28,225£27,240£28,525


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Author: Chris Auty

Voted the Breakthrough Blogger of 2013 by SEAT and the Guild of Motoring Writers , Chris has lived and breathed cars since he was old enough to say 'faster'. With a penchant for hot hatches and an allergy to public transport, he would much prefer to drive a bad car than never drive at all. Fortunately his family has learned to put up with this obsession and the internet has provided a channel for his ramblings.

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