★★★★★ SEAT Leon Cupra R
www.autoexpress.co.uk FIRST UK DRIVE Hot Leon is a winner; if you can find one
WHILE we must wait for the Cuprabadged Ateca SUV, SEAT’S sports car boffins have hinted at its promise with their most powerful hot hatch ever.
But as rivals turn up the wick with faster, four-wheel-drive family cars, SEAT keeps things simple and incremental upgrades have ensured that the Leon Cupra remains relevant. So is the brand’s latest effort the best of the lot?
We drove the limited-run Cupra R in Spain last year (Issue 1,502), and were impressed by the punchy powertrain, playful chassis and sweet steering. In fact, it all but fixed the standard car’s few failings, turning the Leon into a proper Honda Civic Type R rival.
Back on UK roads, little has changed. The Cupra R is a fine hot hatch, feeling harder, more responsive and more complete than the ageing Cupra 300. The 2.0-litre turbo is as eager as ever, offering endless grunt and a familiarar growl. It feels incrediblydibly quick.
Slacken thingsgs off and it will sit on the motorwayrway like any other Leon, despite the firmer settings and big wheels. It’s a bit rough in Cupra mode, but adjust the set-up and you’ll strike a balance between hardcore hot hatch and comfy cruiser.
The Brembo brakes are sharp and offer loads of feel through the pedal, while grip is astounding. Push too hard from a standstill and the tyres scrabble for traction, but once you’re up and running the R’s front differential and wider track allow alarming cornering pace. The six-speed manual gearbox offers quick and precise changes.
All versions come covered in unique copper trim. These accents aren’t yet available elsewhere in the current SEAT range, but are likely to feature on the Ateca Cupra. Our European test car’s matt paint isn’t available in the UK. Brits will get a choice of black or metallic grey, while 19-inch coppercoloured wheels, part-alcantara trim and carbon trinketss are standard.
NEED TO KNOW There’s a 4Driveequipped Cupra R estate on the way