So the day finally arrived! SEAT’s halo model the New Leon Cupra was available to be put through its pace’s in Barcelona and Leon Owners Club were kindly invited to be one of the first to test the car out! Here’s our report on the day and car:
We arrived early Monday morning to a partially cloudy day in Barcelona, we were greeted by SEAT staff and taken to a SEAT stand inside the airport terminal. Here we were allocated a set of keys and invited outside where we were greeted by what seemed like a endless line of Leon Cupra.
The new Cupra is now available with a choice of 2 power outputs 265ps and 280ps both being delivered from a 2.0 Litre TSI Engine. The 280ps gets its own unique 280 Cupra badge and more spec such as 19 inch titanium finished alloy wheels, which we thought really compliment the car, rear spoiler, red brakes callipers with the Cupra logo, navigation system, black door mirror caps and paddle shift controls on the steering wheel (DSG option only). We were also informed that Brembo brakes and bucket seats will be Options coming soon!
The keys we were given first were for a 265ps Cupra 5 door manual, this won’t be available in a 5 door in the UK as a Sport Coupe 265ps manual version will be heading to our shores with a starting price of £25690.
The price has increased from the MK2 Leon Cupra, but when you consider the extra BHP, spec and certainly the difference in technology and driveability it equates to value for money in our eyes. The MK2 265ps ‘R’ version retailed at £25205, so considering like for like it’s only an increase of £485! For a brand new model with lots of new technology and of course more raw power.
After our initial buzz of finally getting to see and drive the Leon Cupra, we set off on our first journey of the day to Martorell, the home of the SEAT Factory. I took to the passenger seat and we set off along the motorway. The first test was to see how the car changed when you put it into Cupra mode using the SEAT drive profile. We put the car into comfort mode and took the car to a steady speed. It evidentially made the car feel much softer, but still very smooth almost saying to us: ” yes I can cruise round like any other car at low speeds and not shake your bones to pieces”. We then changed the car to Cupra mode! “Wow!!” was our immediate response! This made changes to the steering, DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) and engine. The steering became much more responsive, the suspension firmed up and engine noise and tone changed completely screaming to us. Push me to the limit if you dare! This made us both look at each other with a massive smile and followed by the throttle being firmly planted to the floor. We were not disappointed, the car seemed to sit down and just go without being too hard and aggressive on the road. SEAT has obviously done a lot of testing and research to get the settings of this car spot on. Not too hard and not too soft, a car that can cruise the streets with style and elegance and also be at home on a race track.
We arrived at Martorell for the press briefing that was taking place in a giant white cube outside the gates of the factory. Here, we were given all the technical data for the Cupra and some presentations from Antonio Valdivieso ( Head of product communications). After this, Neil Williamson (SEAT UK Managing Director) took to the floor to give us his thoughts, he gave us stats on how well the Leon is performing in the UK market and is currently in the top 4 in its class in the UK. He even took time to let all the journalists know the Leon Owners Club are present today and how SEAT value us and our members. A very proud moment for us indeed. We were then shown a video of what could be the Cupra advert. I won’t even begin to explain what I saw, because I have written it out 3 times and it sounds like I have gone mad! But it did include a lot of toy monkeys banging symbols and blowing up! You see what I mean!
The briefing finished and it was time to get back in the Cupra with me behind the wheel and head to Castelloli race circuit where we could really test the power of the New Cupra.
We arrived in good time and grabbed a quick spot of lunch and I was soon waiting to take the 280 Cupra round the track. The car I got first was a 280 SC with DSG.
Luckily, I was at the back of a four-car convoy, which allowed me to hang back a little so I could really test the car and catch the pack back up! I don’t have any track experience and this was something that I been really looking forward too and was also a little nervous, but also very excited. I noticed that the pace car had not come out in front of us and off we went. The car seemed to make me feel at ease very quickly as it flew through the corners with ease and hardly a screech from the tyres. The DSG was very smooth and responsive to changes. The limited slip differential obviously working superbly as this car was at ease no matter how hard I tried to push it. There was a noise from the car with the DSG that wasn’t audio-able from the manual and oh did we like it! It was almost like a popping sound when you changed through the gears and you could not help but smile as you felt you were really making this car sing.
I noticed the pack was getting away from me so after my first lap really started to push to my limit. It took a while but I started to catch the pack and by the time we had done the second lap I was back with them. We finished the 3rd lap and I really could not wipe the smile off my face. Upon leaving the car, one of the SEAT staff who was in the 1st car came over and asked “did you prefer the second test without a pace car?”.
To his horror, I replied: “errrm that was my first drive!”. “Oh I’m so sorry sir I thought this was a group with everyone used to the circuit and on their second drive!”.
“No problem I replied”, oh well at least I got to push the car really hard through its paces and test my driving skills. A credit to the car really as it made everything feel so natural and easy.
After this we were free to keep going round the circuit or take the cars wherever we wanted to and go test them on the open road. We opted to take a 5 door 280 manual on the open road. This was also fitted with the bucket seat option that will be available from June. We headed out along some really narrow twisty roads the car seemed to be in it element again handling the corners with ease the manual gearbox was very smooth and precise. The bucket seats held us firm and were also very comfortable. A must have for the Cupra enthusiast. We stopped for a few photos and it was soon time to head back to the airport.
Our thoughts and summary
SEAT has clearly done their homework and plenty of testing on the New Leon Cupra and for me they have got every element of this car. Spot on! They have managed to produce a car that is happy to drive around the streets looking stylish, technically sophisticated and cool and yet put your foot down and you can “unleash the beast”!! that is Cupra! The car can deliver up to 44.1mpg with a top speed 0f 155 mph. The highest band for road tax on the Cupra is £175 per year and all models have a 0 – 62 mph of under 6 seconds. All very impressive figures. For me the 280 Cupra is the car I enjoyed the most, for the first time ever I would go for the DSG option over the manual as I found it more fun and enjoyed the noise that the car didn’t produce from the manual version. The car gets a massive thumbs up and 5 stars from Leon Owners Club.
This is quite simply the best and fastest Leon Cupra ever made! Put the car in Cupra mode on the SEAT drive profile, put your foot down and unleash the beast.
So what are you waiting for! Get yourself to a SEAT dealer and get your order’s in. This one’s a real keeper!
Leon Owners Club would like to thank all from SEAT for their great hospitality and for kindly inviting us and making this possible. A massive thank you!