SEAT Leon Cupra (2014 – 2020) Review
SEAT Leon Cupra (2014 – 2020) At A Glance
Evolving steadily throughout its lifespan, the SEAT Leon Cupra that arrived in 2014 started with a healthy 265PS from its turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. This grew to 280- and then 290PS, plus a final hurrah of 310PS in the last of the line Cupra R limited edition models. As such, the Spaniard kept pace in power and acceleration with its major rivals and made for a very able, enjoyable hot hatch. It also came with the usual Leon benefits of a well-made and roomy cabin, and sound build quality all in a fine-handling and swift package.
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The 2014 SEAT Leon Cupra acted as a barometer of how much power was required to be considered among the top tier of hot hatches.
Throughout its lifespan, this Leon Cupra’s engine output steadily grew in line with what was needed to fend off lesser rivals and keep the Spaniard very much in the hunt with the best in class such as the Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Type R and, of course, the Volkswagen Golf GTI.
So, the Leon Cupra began with 265PS when it was unveiled in 2014. That seemed like a lot of poke back then, especially for a front-wheel drive hot hatch and only the likes of Vauxhall Astra VXR could outdo the Leon.
To sort that, the Spanish firm introduced a 280PS version of the 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder motor in 2015. That gave way in short order to a 290PS iteration of the engine and that’s what we have in the later five-door hatch models.
SEAT still wasn’t quite done with upping the ante, though, and for the Leon Cupra Estate power was increased to 300PS. This also comes with four-wheel drive and the same seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox as the hatch.
Even then, SEAT offered a limited edition Cupra R model with 310PS. Finding one will be the trickiest part as only 799 in total were produced. You’ll have similar problems tracking down the earlier Sub8 models built to mark the Leon Cupra lapping the Nürburgring in less than eight minutes, which is quite an achievement for any car.
Whichever Leon Cupra you choose, 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 also renowned for its impressive handling and the Cupra builds on that. It may be one of the older members of the hot hatch brigade and now replaced by the Cupra Leon, which is part of a standalone sub-brand of SEAT, but it’s still a very entertaining, enjoyable car to drive.
All models get a limited slip front differential to help deal with the power of the engine and transmit it to the road without the wheels scrabbling for grip. Use the full force of the Leon Cupra and the 290PS hatch will dispense with 0-62mph in six seconds, which is on a par with the class best.
However, it’s the four-wheel drive estate model that steals the performance show and stands out as possibly the most practical fast wagon money can buy. It dashes off 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds, making it quicker than Honda Civic Type R.