| 10.5°C Dublin

New Cupra R finally slays the GTi dragon

To use a tired, old 'fashion' cliche - Less is more .... well, more or less.

Ye Wha?.

Yes darling, it's a lot easier than saying understated is the new overstated.

Now, before you start stomping your feet and screeching OMG and TMI, let me explain why.

The SEAT Leon Cupra has come of age.

It's no longer a petulant teenager constantly in your face and full of attitude.

Gone are the garishly loud colours, muscled-up bumpers and graffiti-like badges that left you in no doubt that this was indeed, through-and-through boy-racer.

No sir. It's more country club than nite club and the subtle changes have increased it's desirability 10-fold.

Like Gok Wan, who can turn a frumpy housewife into a vampish sex kitten with a minor tweak here and there, the latest offering is just that.

The flowing lines of the Leon and the sunken rear door handles make it a fab looking car anyway, so all the Spanish outfit had to do was accessorise alittle.


The did just that with 19 inch alloys coupled with extra large red callipers to set them off. Inside you get two-toned Cupra bucket seats and an Audi TT-style flat bottomed steering wheel.

But it's under the hood and the blistering performance from a genuine front wheel drive 'hot hatch' is where it earned it's street cred.

The good news is that the Cupra R is quicker, better handling and more responsive than the older brother.

What we have here is a legal rocketship which can propel you from 0 to 100kmh in just over 6 seconds reaching a top end of 250.

At a special track day in Mondello yesterday I got the chance to drive the 260bhp Golf R-rivalling beast to the max.

If you thought for one second that a front wheel drive hot hatch is in any way inferior to rear wheel drive then you are very much mistaken. This car is absolute perfection. Switch off the traction control, a couple of practice laps to get the lines right and it's time to party.

Drop the hammer and the full-on adrenaline rush begins. As the throaty growl gets louder so does your heartbeat, the pace quickens as do the corners. The Cupra savages bend after bend and begs for more while glued to the track. Amazing.

This car is as good if not better than the VW GTi/R and is €10k cheaper at €39,525.