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In-depth reviews

SEAT Leon Cupra R hatchback (2010-2012)

"The Leon Cupra R is SEAT's most powerful car ever, Packing 261bhp it offers real performance punch, mated to a four-door hatchback"

Carbuyer Rating

3.2 out of 5

Owners Rating

5.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Strong performance
  • Cheaper than Golf R
  • Aggressive styling

Cons

  • High price compared to standard Cupra
  • Dated interior design
  • Lack of steering feedback

SEAT's most powerful car ever, the Leon Cupra R is a very accomplished hot hatch that shares the Volkswagen Golf patform. Packing 261bhp from it's Volkswagen Scirocco R-derived 2.0-litre TSI engine the four-door hatchback is capable of 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds. Handling is impressive too but the steering provides little in the way of valuable feedback. On the outside, uprated brakes, sports suspension and huge 19-inch alloy wheels provide a clue to the performance on offer whilst an aggressive grille, black door mirrors and twin rear tailpipes complete the look. The interior feels very well made and features attractive leather sports seats, a squared-off steering wheel and aluminium pedals.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Performance compromises economy

With so much performance on tap the Cupra R is surprisingly efficient, delivering 34.9mpg combined economy and putting out 190g/km of CO2. With a VW sourced engine and parts, servicing is relatively easy and reasonably priced.

Engines, drive & performance

Lots of power but steering feels lifeless

The SEAT Leon Cupra R can go from 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds- but unlike its Volkswagen Golf R sister, it remains front-wheel drive. With uprated brakes and sports suspension the SEAT handles well, with limited body roll and plenty of grip. The ride feels very firm on longer journeys however and the steering often feels numb, partly due to its huge 19-inch alloy wheels.

Interior & comfort

Hard ride on UK roads

With such large wheels, comfort isn't the Leon's greatest asset. It feels overly firm, picking up all the lumps and bumps of UK roads. A shallow windscreen and thick pillars hinder visibility as well, particularly for shorter drivers. Inside, the white diamond-stitched leather sports seats offer good support, while the squared-off steering wheel and aluminium pedals add to the car’s sporty persona. Standard kit is impressive, but it lacks the storage space of rivals.

Practicality & boot space

Practical for a performance car

Compared to rivals such as the Ford Focus, the Seat’s boot isn’t very well thought-out. It's quite shallow and the floor is low in relation to the boot lip – making loading difficult. In the cabin the glovebox is small and the moulded plastic centre console doesn’t have a vast amount of storage.

Reliability & safety

Four star Euro NCAP rating not as good as rivals from VW

The Seat’s cabin feels robust with a soft touch dashboard, but elsewhere there's far too much hard, grainy plastic on show. Safety features are good, with front, curtain and side airbags fitted as standard, as well as electronic stability control. But its four-star Euro NCAP crash rating falls behind the five-star rating of many rivals. Its engines and electrics are all tried and tested VW units that should provide trouble-free motoring.

Price, value for money & options

Cheaper than the Golf R

Costing £3,705 more than the standard 237bhp Cupra, the range-topping R doesn’t bring many visual changes. It gets a new front grille, gloss black door mirrors, larger rear diffuser finished in the same gloss effect and twin central exhaust pipes. Whether the additional equipment is enough to justify the premium over the excellent Cupra is debatable, but it is considerably cheaper than the equivalent Golf R, whilst offering as much performance.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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