Review: SEAT Leon Cupra R (2010 – 2013)
Strong performance, manages to put its power down very cleanly, understated looks, great handling, relatively economical, forgiving ride. Chain cam engine.
Doesn't look very different from the standard Cupra.
SEAT Leon Cupra R (2010 – 2013): At A Glance
- Insurance Group 36
- On average it achieves 76% of the official MPG figure
Sitting at the pinnacle of the Leon range is the SEAT Leon Cupra R - a car that manages to put even the standard Cupra and sporty FR in the shade. This is a cut above a 'hot hatch' and offers amazing performance thanks to a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with power boosted to 265bhp, giving this Leon a 0-62mph time of just 6.2 seconds.
It really is as blisteringly quick as it looks, with amazing acceleration across the rev range. But what is most impressive is the way the Leon Cupra R manages to put all that power down on the road without scrabbling for grip or feeling twitchy at the front.
Unlike the Volkswagen Golf R - which uses the same engine with slightly more power - the Leon doesn't have four-wheel drive, instead it's a standard front wheel drive set-up. But you'd rarely know it. It feels incredibly surefooted, even under hard acceleration, so driving quickly but smoothly is a genuinely enjoyable experience.
But the Leon Cupra R is more than just outright pace. It's sharp and agile in corners, plus has an impressively forgiving ride for a performance hatch. It's also easy to drive at low speeds with decent fuel economy of 34.9mpg, making it a great all-rounder that's as refined as it is quick. And while it's the most expensive model in the Leon range, when you compare it to other hot hatches with this much power the Cupra R looks good value.
What does a SEAT Leon Cupra R (2010 – 2013) cost?
SEAT Leon Cupra R (2010 – 2013): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 341 litres
The Leon Cupra R builds on the already neat design of the Leon cabin, which was revised in 2009 with a far sleeker interior. There are some key differences though which make it stand out, most notably the bucket seats with their unusual quilted black leather trim, giving them an almost Bentley-style look. Then there's the chunky sports steering wheel which is as good to hold as it looks. The metal trim and flat-bottomed shape add to the high performance feel in the cabin.
Quality is good too, reflected in the precise feel of the climate control switches and the leather trimmed gear lever. There are also unique dials and aluminium trimmed pedals, while anyone sitting in the back get the same quilted seats plus striking gloss black front seatbacks, which really stand out.
From behind the wheel, it's easy to find the perfect driving position with height adjustment in the seat and plenty of reach movement in the steering column. Those sports seats are superb too, comfortable enough for everyday use but with plenty of side support for indulging in more enthusiastic driving. The Leon Cupra R is also a useable performance hatch with good head and legroom for passengers in the back and a large boot.
But what's most impressive is how refined the Leon Cupra R is. This is no unforgiving hot hatch despite the superb performance on offer, and it's as easy to drive at low speeds as a standard SEAT Leon, helped by the firm but forgiving ride. Even at higher speeds, there's little wind or road noise, so long journeys needn't be a tiring experience as in some hot hatches. It's a car that's as happy on the school run as it is tackling twisting country lanes.
Equipment from launch (June 2010):
There is just one version of the Cupra R and as the high performance Leon, it comes suitably equipped with exclusive Cupra R bucket seats upholstered in quilted black leather, gloss black front seat-back, Cupra R bumpers, twin central exit exhaust pipes, gloss black rear diffuser, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, rain sensitive wipers, 19-inch alloy wheels, the XDS electronic differential) ESP stability control with EBA emergency brake assist, sports suspension, aluminium pedals, dual zone climate control, dark tinted rear windows, CD stereo with steering-wheel mounted controls, combined USB/Aux-in port, eletrically adjustable folding door mirrors, trip computer, cruise control, electric windows, an alarm and immobiliser, front fog lights with a cornering function and rear-seat Isofix child seat mounting points.
Child seats that fit a SEAT Leon Cupra R (2010 – 2013)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 R (2010 – 2013) like to drive?
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 25–28 mpg
Making a high performance hatchback is about more than merely fitting a powerful engine, but naturally, it's a key ingredient. The Leon Cupra R uses the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as the Leon Cupra with power boosted to 265bhp. This is an increase of 25bhp but what makes more of a noticeable difference is the increase in torque - up by 50Nm to 350Nm - that's more than a Porsche Cayman.
This means the Leon Cupra R is immense when accelerating in gear but doesn't need to be revved to the red line to get strong pace from it. In fact, it's at its best through the mid-range, where it feels incredibly responsive and hugely enjoyable. Exploiting all that power is made easy thanks to a wonderfully precise and positive six-speed manual gearbox which has a shorter shift than the standard Cupra, helping deliver even snappier changes.
As a result, 0-62mph comes up in just 6.2 seconds and although this is only marginally quicker than the standard Leon Cupra (which manages it in 6.4 seconds), it certainly feels quicker on the move. The revised engine in the Cupra R also has a very different nature with a more responsive turbo which results in a rather unusual suction sound from the rear when accelerating. It's not too intrusive and actually sounds pretty good when combined with the deep burble from the twin exhausts which are exclusive to the Cupra R.
But the Leon Cupra R is more than just sheer power. It's also a very civilised performance hatch and one that's very impressive to drive. Despite being front wheel drive, it manages to put all that power down cleanly, without scrabbling for grip - even from a standstill. The front always feels planted to the road and the steering wheel doesn't tug from side to side as it can in hot hatches like the Mazda3 MPS.
This gives you plenty of confidence in corners too, helped by the perfectly weighted steering which offers a decent amount of feel. There's minimal body roll as you'd expect, yet it's not crashy even on rough roads thanks to an impressively forgiving suspension set-up. True, it's quite firm - this is a performance hatch after all - but it's never uncomfortable or bouncy.
It's incredible nimble too and deals amazingly well with quick changes of direction, feeling reassuringly stable. Thanks to that great front end grip, accelerating away from slow corners is effortless and on a long twisting road, the Cupra R really flows from bend to bend in a hugely rewarding fashion. This is helped by XDS - an electronic system which uses the ABS to mimic a traditional limited slip differential.
Yet in everyday driving, whether it's in town or on the motorway, the Cupra R is as docile and as comfortable as a standard Leon making it a great all-round performance hatch. And with only 500 built every year, you're guaranteed a bit of exclusivity too. This is a car guaranteed to put a grin on your face every time you get behind the wheel.
|2.0 TSI Cupra R||35 mpg||6.2 s||190 g/km|
Real MPG average for a SEAT Leon Cupra R (2010 – 2013)
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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