SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280 TSI UK drive

  • We drive the £29,205 SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280 on UK roads
  • Blistering performance and loads of grip offset by claimed 42.2mpg 

Compromise.

It’s a word most of us have to battle with when buying a new car. You want power but low running costs. Practicality but excitment too. Cheap to buy but full of kit. It's a difficult balance to strike, but SEAT thinks it's got the answer with its Leon ST Cupra 280. 

Eager performance

On paper our test car looks exciting with 276bhp and 350Nm of torque enabling the car to sprint from 0-62mph in just 6.1 seconds. That’s only 0.2 seconds slower than the hatch despite the ST’s extra weight and size.  

The car doesn’t disappoint with impressive straight line speed and agile handling. A differential lock sends up to 100 percent of the torque to either of the front wheels when needed so traction and grip is excellent, especially in the corners.

Feedback through the light steering is good and all Cupra models include the SEAT Driver Profile. This allows you to choose between individual, comfort, sport and Cupra driving modes to alter throttle response, steering, suspension setup and engine note to suit.

Comfort is ideal for those long motorway journeys and Cupra unleashes the cars full potential, ramping up the rate of agrression in the throttle, suspension and that differential. We just wish the engine note was a little more vocal.  

There’s little to grumble about with running costs either, combined fuel economy is 42.2mpg and CO2 emissions are 157g/km. Make full use of the cars sporty drive modes and you’re not likely to get close to the official fuel economy figures though.

Generous levels of kit

Standard kit on Cupra models includes sat-nav, eye-catching 19-inch alloy wheels, rear roof spoiler, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, large and comfortable Alcantara sports seats, red brake callipers, dual chrome exhaust pipes, full LED headlights and the aforementioned driver profile system.

That's alot of kit for the £29,205 price tag. 

There’s just two additional options on our test car, the Nevada White metallic paint for £575 and an adaptive cruise control system for £515. Both are worth considering. 

The interior feels durable enough for family life, plus the cabin is littered with numerous Cupra badges which help brighten it up.

Estate practicality

Slip behind the wheel and you'll find it doesn’t quite reflect the modern and eye-catching design of the exterior. That said it’s functional, well-thought out and spacious, with plenty of leg and headroom on offer for all passengers.

In the boot there’s 587-litres of space, ideal for the family holiday. Collapsing the rear seats is simply done via a lever in the boot, plus there's a couple of cubbies, hooks and a power source for additional practicality.

Verdict

One of the most impressive traits of the Leon Cupra ST is its versatility. Sporty yet practical, fast but frugal and impressively comfortable on the motorway so there's plenty to like.

It may not have the most desirable badge, or the most exciting interior, but the list of the Cupra ST 280’s highlights far surpasses any negatives.

Rating: Five stars

Click here to read our full review of the SEAT Leon Cupra