Video: SEAT Leon Cupra review
Can the SEAT Cupra really be faster than a Golf GTI?
There are times when I think that we've reached the pinnacle of what engineering can do with a car, there's only so much horsepower that can be put down on the road before the tyres just let go and you end up spinning the wheels until the tyres burst. When it comes to front wheel drive this can be very few horsepower indeed because the front wheels have to do the steering as well as put power on the road. When you accelerate the car lifts up on the front putting the weight down on the back and so with FWD you get a feeling of spinning and lack of weight in the steering which can be frightening.
Enter the SEAT Leon Cupra with either 265hp or my test car the 280hp lunatic that can bend space and time in such a way that it'll make your nose bleed. For a hot hatch it can put power down in ways that I never thought possible, you will back off in a corner long before it runs out of grip. The Cupra goes from 0-100kph in just 5.8 seconds and 5.7secs if you opt for DSG auto, that time is reserved for supercars but the Cupra bats well out of its weight class.
SEAT are very good at the hot-hatch, they have always done something that’s much more sporty and raw than the parent company VW; there’s always a feeling of rough and ready about the SEAT cars but that seems to be largely gone these days. There’s much more refinement around the cabin and plenty of kit that comes from the VW parts bin.
This move to pull in the parts but to put both their own logo and stamp on how the car feels has paid dividends for the SEAT group as their sales are on the up because people are looking for value for money but still want something a little more sporty and youthful. I wonder if the biggest competition for VW in the market isn’t from within their group.
There’s always a big question from the motoring heads out there, is the Cupra better than the Golf GTI? That’s a tough one to say because they share a lot of the same parts but SEAT have done a enough to make it different both to drive and to look at. There are lots of sharp lines on the outside and the LED lights really make the exterior stand out from a normal Leon. To drive, there’s that special differential that’s only available on the Performance pack Golf GTI that’s standard on the Cupra. It makes a difference; it’s really hard to upset the car in a corner. Even if you get it all wrong in a corner the car shunts power around so fast that you’ll hardly notice.
The SEAT Cupra might be the first car this year that I actually miss driving, it is a car you can drive everyday and every time you get in it’ll make you smile. Another thing that’ll make you smile is the price, the Cupra starts at €33,545 for the 265bhp and my test car at 280bhp will set you back €35,060 when you think the equivalent Golf GTI is over 2.5 grand more and you’ll be faster than it you’ll grin from ear to ear.