SEAT Leon Cupra – Review
By Liam Bird
Try as you might, no matter how hard you try to persuade them, your local Volkswagen dealer won’t sell you a Golf GTi estate. It’s not that they don’t want to. A Volkswagen Golf GTi… err, wagon, would probably sell like the proverbial hot cake. Especially if they were to put one in the window. There is a bigger, yet simpler, problem you see: Volkswagen doesn’t make a Golf GTi Estate.
Or maybe they do…
It’s no secret that Volkswagen’s ubiquitous – and dare I say it, rather marvellous – MQB platform underpins a whole host of other VAG group motors. There’s the Skoda Octavia and both the Audi TT and A4 for start. And, of course, there’s the Seat Leon. Or in this case the Seat Leon Cupra ST – that’s Sports Tourer to give its official title – think Leon Estate and you’ll have hit the nail squarely on the head.
It may weigh an extra 45 kilos when compared to its hatchback sibling, and come with the capability to swallow 1,470 litres of luggage with ease, but the combination of performance and day-to-day usability of the Leon ST 280 Cupra seems incredibly well judged.
By stretching the Leon’s already handsome body by another 27mm, Seat’s designers have created what surely must be one of the best-looking compact estates – sorry! Sports Tourers (no one calls them estates anymore) – currently available. Some altogether more aggressive front-end styling, red brake calipers and a rear diffuser complete with twin tail-pipes, together with nicely detailed LED headlights mean its looks gather more than a few appreciative glances, especially when it’s been treated to a coat of Emocion Red paint as per the test car.
Slip inside, and the Cupra’s flat-bottomed, multi-function steering wheel will be familiar to anyone who’s driven one of the quicker VW or Audi offerings from the past few years. VW regulars will immediately feel at home with the interior’s layout and most of the minor switchgear.
The Cupra spec Leon gains some seriously comfy alcantara-backed sports seats. They hug you in all the right places and it’s those, as well as the soft touch materials that certainly help add an air of quality to what ultimately is a cabin. It could be described as slightly sober in its appearance – even the headlining is black. There’s no tartan trim or retro golf-ball gear knob to be seen here.
What perhaps is more surprising then is just how well the Seat Leon Cupra ST rides. Traditionally, a Seat chassis and 19-inch alloys fitted with what appears to be just a smear of rubber would have all added up to give a very lumpy ride. However the reality is this flagship Leon ST proves to be quite a relaxed cruiser. The ride is always taut and grippy too, but it’s also comfy, and only the worst of what a B road could offer was transmitted back into the cabin. Dare I say it? This could be the best riding Seat of them all.
“Pace, space and fun”
It’s that ability to soak up the bumps, coupled with the Cupra’s ability to tackle corners at speeds far greater than its estate car looks would have you believe. With 276 bhp you can hit 60mph in just 6.1 seconds and go on, where permitted, to 155mph! It’s these features that make the Leon Cupra ST such an accomplished all rounder. One moment it’s the family run-around loaded to the gunnels and the next it’s a truly entertaining hot-hatch just like, well, a Golf GTi.
It’s not totally perfect of course. You’d have to drive it like a maiden aunt to get anywhere near that claimed 42.2 mpg figure. I rarely pressed the button to enable either the Sport or totally cooking Cupra mode. Yet I still managed to empty the tank in less than 300 miles and I’m not exactly The Stig. Well, not all the time anyway. But, I’ll forgive the Seat Leon Cupra ST its thirst. Instead put it down to the test car having only covered 1600 miles on arrival.
To put it simply, I can’t think of another car you can buy that offers the same near perfect mix of pace, space, build quality and best of all, fun. And you just know, that even if by some miracle you could entice Volkswagen to build a Golf GTi estate, they’d probably charge more than the £29,205 Seat asks for the Leon Cupra ST too.
SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280 2.0 litre TSi
Engine: 1,984 cc 4Cyl turbo-charged petrol
Transmission: 6 speed Manual, front wheel drive with electronic limited-slip diff
Power: 276 bhp @ 5600 – 6500 rpm
Torque: 280 lbft @170 – 5600rpm
0-62MPH: 6.1 Sec
Max Speed: 155mph
MPG: 42.2 combined