SEAT has shown its rival to the Volkswagen Golf R estate – the Leon ST Cupra. The car is one of the most convincing do-everything packages of recent times because it’s immensely fast, usefully practical and attractively styled. It may be down 19hp and is only available with front-wheel drive, but it’s cheaper than the Golf R…
What powers it?
Taking the regular Leon ST – our favourite estate of 2014 – as its base, the Cupra gets a choice of 261 or 276hp 2.0-litre turbo petrols. This prodigious power is enough to catapult the faster ST Cupra to 62mph from rest in 6.0 seconds flat when fitted with the optional DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox.
With 258lb ft of torque available from just 1,700rpm the new car should be easy to drive around town and flexible when on more open roads. When fitted with the DSG gearbox, the car returns 42.8mpg at the pumps and 154g/km of CO2 – very impressive numbers considering the power available.
Keeping all the power under control is an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential that varies the locking force holding the front wheels together to increase traction when turning. Variable rate steering helps keep the wheel light when manoeuvring while keeping the car stable on the motorway.
The car has been subtly restyled to reflect the powerful engine it’s hiding. A more aggressive front bumper featuring full-LED headlights is fitted while, at the back, a new rear diffuser houses two large ovular exhausts and, on 276hp versions, a rear spoiler is included over the rear window.
An optional performance pack brings more powerful Brembo brake calipers, special wheels and performance-biased tyres – something that’s probably only useful if you attend a lot of track days. Dynamic chassis control is fitted and allows you to vary the sportiness of the throttle response, DSG gearshift ferocity, damper stiffness and steering weight.
Buyers will also get new Cupra badges on the boot, door sills and dotted around the interior. To jazz up the outside you can choose from white-, black- or orange-line packs which add a splash of colour to the wheels, wing mirrors and grille.
It looks great – shut up and take my money!
Hold your horses – order books will open later this month and dealers will get the first models in March – SEAT has suggested a £28,505 starting price. Think you’ll miss four-wheel drive and the extra 19hp? Take a look at our preview of the Volkswagen Golf R Estate or, if you need even more space, read our real-world review of the Skoda Octavia vRS – which is available as a cavernous estate, but without quite as much power as the SEAT.