How Cupra can make you think it's ordinary
Published 27/08/2014 | 02:30
I will be accused of overdoing it by writing about the SEAT Leon Cupra - again.
But this is the first time I've driven it on the road here, so that's surely worth a few words.
My previous encounter was at Mondello where I raced it with the Golf GTi and couldn't make up my mind.
A different sort of drive, you'll agree. The purpose of these few words is not to extol its crackling performance as such.
Rather it is to tell you how ordinary - and extraordinary - a car it can be. I'd forgotten on both fronts - it took the road drive to remind me.
I got out of an Audi S1 pocket rocket and confusedly thought for a while I was in an ordinary Leon. That can happen when you change from a sports car to a motor with more sedate ambitions.But it shouldn't when the car I was getting into was a stonking 280bhp Cupra 5dr hatch with auto DSG gearbox.
I tiddled out through Ballsbridge, wondering to myself what was going on. I made up my mind and headed for the M50. I used the DSG gearshift for Sport and, yes, there was 'bite'. But there was something missing. And then it dawned. This car has a Driver Profile system which lets you select a range of modes from Normal to Individual (all the Leon FRs have it). Only in this, there is a Cupra mode. It is brilliant - the throttle instantly responds, it holds gears longer, the steering feels different, the car lets you have the full audible blast of the turbocharged engine. It was a total transformation.
And the Dynamic chassis control system was beavering away to get the best from the suspension. In Cupra mode, it too firmed up the response.
I'd forgotten how easy it was to entirely change the car's behaviour by merely applying a fingertip.Yes, I'd overlooked the fact I needed to choose. We're all so used to having everything done for us these days aren't we?
When I remembered, almost by magic - and a fingertip - it leapt, snarled and roared into action. That's when the 280bhp from the 2-litre engine felt like it could do 0-100kmh in 5.7 seconds.
Oh! nearly forgot again: It costs around €37,500 (Delivery, related charges extra).