Review: SEAT Leon Cupra (2014)
Great fun to drive with superb handling. Throaty exhaust note. Well equipped as standard.
More expensive than a Ford Focus ST.
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SEAT Leon Cupra (2014): At A Glance
- New prices start from £35,575, brokers can source from £24,887
- Contract hire deals from £223.54 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 32–36
- On average it achieves 75% of the official MPG figure
The 2014 Leon Cupra is the latest chapter in SEAT’s successful range of performance cars. However, much has changed with the 2014 edition and it is a more grown up car in comparison to its predecessor.
The brash wheel arches and colour schemes have been replaced with a toned down design and from a distance you’d be hard pressed to tell the Cupra apart from the standard Leon. Yet, under the bonnet, the new Cupra is still highly potent and tremendous fun.
The Leon is renowned for its impressive handling and the Cupra builds on that by injecting brutal acceleration with precise handling.
All models get a mechanical multi-clutch front axle differential lock, a progressive steering system that sharpens turn-in plus a DCC dynamic chassis control system that alters the suspension settings between a sportier or more comfort-oriented set-up.
The 280PS version was - when first launched - the most powerful production car SEAT had ever made and also the quickest with a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds for the DSG version.
Over time power was upped and by 2018, the Leon Cupra had 300PS and was available as both a hatchback or an estate and with 4Drive four-wheel drive too.
But the real star of the Cupra range is the limited edition Cupra R. Launched in 2017, only 24 were available in the UK, making it a rare sight. It has an uprated 310PS engine along with a manual gearbox plus extended wheelarches and bronze trim to make it stand out. It was a fitting finale before this became the Cupra Leon as part of Cupra's spin-off as a separate brand.
What does a SEAT Leon Cupra (2014) cost?
SEAT Leon Cupra (2014): What's It Like Inside?
One of the bugbears of the old Leon Cupra was the poor quality of its cabin and it would not be uncommon for the old Cupra to shake, rattle and roll along with your favourite CD, such was the lack of attention to detail when it came to the fit and finish of plastics and trim.
Thankfully this has been addressed in the new Leon and the interior feels a lot more upmarket in comparison. The driver gets a flat bottomed steering wheel with in-built controls. The cloth seats are also comfortable and supportive, which makes them ideal for daily use.
Sometimes hot hatches can be an assault on the senses, but SEAT has resisted the urge to transform the interior of its Leon into a crude boy racer wagon and instead kept its focus on comfort. But, should you take a disliking to the shape of your legs and spine, then the option of bucket seats was made available from June 2014 onwards.
However, in its standard guise, the Leon Cupra is comfortable and pleasant, with plenty of head and leg room for both the driver and front passenger. LED interior lights are standard and the dashboard is easy to use and understand. As with the standard model, the Cupra gets 5.8-inch LCD touch-screen display, which operates the car's sound system, sat nav and interior settings.
The system is intuitive, combining all of the car’s interior functions in typical Volkswagen group style and works really well. It is also possible to program the dynamic chassis control via the screen, which is aided by graphic displays to help you understand what each individual function does.
Unlike the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, the Leon hasn’t had its buttons scattered by the four winds, which gives the cabin a clean and upmarket appearance. There are also a number of useful cubby holes and pockets, along with a standard pair of cup holders.
Child seats that fit a SEAT Leon Cupra (2014)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the SEAT Leon Cupra (2014) like to drive?
The power of the SEAT Leon Cupra has been upped over the years. It originally had 265PS in standard form but this version was soon dropped due to lack of demand. Instead it was the 280PS version which everyone chose.
The Cupra's 2.0 TSI engine is a mainstay of the Volkswagen Group and used in various cars and it performs strongly in the Leon.
Gun the throttle and the throaty 2.0-litre engine roars along with real gusto, yet the power delivery remains smooth. Even in front-wheel drive models, it doesn't scrabble for grip too much, helped in no small part by the car’s limited-slip differential, which is sourced direct from the Golf GTI.
By September 2015 the engine had been upgraded to 290PS before finally there was the 300PS version, available as both a hatch, SC or estate and with 4Drive four-wheel drive and a DSG gearbox.
Whatever the output, the Leon Cupra is far from slow and we think it's worth sacrificing outright power to get a manual over a DSG. The automatic is impressive in the Leon - and it's one of the more reliable iterations of the DSG - but the manual is much more enjoyable to drive, with sharp and snappy gearchanges.
We tested the Cupra on both damp and dry roads, yet found it to be surefooted through the entire rev range. In fact, even potholes and damp drain covers can be skipped over under heavy acceleration, without any nasty surprises, such is the impressive nature of the Leon's running gear.
There's also plenty of torque so the Cupra doesn't always have to worked hard if you want a sudden burst of speed, handy for overtaking. The 300PS model has 380Nm (up from the previous 350Nm) and it kicks in at 1800rpm all the way up to 5000rpm.
On country lanes the Leon Cupra comes into its own and needs little encouragement to tackle difficult roads at speed. It will also take quite a lot of punishment before giving any indication that it's ready to relinquish its grip, such is the ability of its limited-slip diff.
We pushed it as hard as we could through country roads and were really impressed with its ability to rapidly change direction and accelerate. This is a really accomplished hot hatch.
If the thought of thundering around country lanes leaves like Evel Knievel leaves you cold or ashen in the face then you’ll also be pleased to hear that the Leon reels things in on the motorway, with the engine note hushed to a barely audible whirl.
The suspension settings can also be customised to match your mood, yet none of the settings are what we would describe as hard, despite the large alloy wheels.
In 2018, SEAT launched a special final edition, the Leon Cupra R. It gets an uprated engine with 310PS but sticks with a manual gearbox and is front wheel drive. Only 24 were available in the UK, making it very sought after.
In fact, it's a shame it was so limited, as the Cupra R is by far the best iteration of the Cupra. Not just because of the extra styling bits such as the extended wheelarches and copper trim, nor even the extra power.
What really makes this Cupra so good to drive is the changes under the skin. Such as modified camber angles on the front axle, four piston Brembro brake callipers and a retuned sports exhaust system, plus, a rear spoiler providing 20kg of downforce.
The result is a superb hot hatch that's easily a match for anything else out in the road when it comes to performance and handling, yet is still comfortable enough to live with everyday.
|2.0 TSI 265 SC||43 mpg||5.9 s||154 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 280 DSG Estate||43 mpg||-||154 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 280 Estate||42 mpg||-||158 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 290||42 mpg||-||156 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 290 DSG||42–44 mpg||4.4 s||149–154 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 290 DSG Estate||43 mpg||-||154 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 290 DSG SC||43 mpg||-||149 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 290 Estate||42 mpg||-||158 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 290 SC||42 mpg||-||156 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 300||41 mpg||5.8 s||161 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 300 DSG||42 mpg||5.7 s||164 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 300 DSG Estate||39–40 mpg||4.9–5.2 s||161–164 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 300 DSG SC||42 mpg||5.6 s||153 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 300 Estate||40 mpg||6.0 s||161 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 300 SC||41 mpg||5.7 s||158 g/km|
|2.0 TSI R 300 DSG Estate||-||-||164 g/km|
|2.0 TSI R 310||39 mpg||5.8 s||170 g/km|
Real MPG average for a SEAT Leon Cupra (2014)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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