SEAT Leon Cupra: Hello

  • One of the fastest hot hatches around joins the Parkers fleet
  • Powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 276bhp
  • In five-door automatic Cupra 280 form it costs £28,530 on-the-road

The latest addition to the Parkers long-term test fleet is really rather exciting. That’s because for the next few months we’ll be running one of the hot hatches of the moment: the SEAT Leon Cupra.

There have been hot Leons before, but none quite as sizzling as this one. Sharing many of its mechanicals and much of its structure with the sublime Volkswagen Golf GTI yet undercutting the VW on price, it’s a pretty compelling package.

SEAT Leon Cupra 280

Two versions are available. There’s the SEAT Leon Cupra 265, which is available with a three-door body and manual gearbox only and, as the name suggests has 265 metric horsepower (261bhp in old money) from its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

Alternatively, there’s the SEAT Leon Cupra 280 which can be had with three doors or five, a manual ’box or super-fast DSG auto and boasts a full-fat 276bhp. That’s right, the Leon’s not only cheaper than the Golf GTI, it’s also faster and more powerful. (The Golf has a maximum of 227bhp with the optional Performance Pack, and that’s certainly not a slow car.)

We’re rather lucky – we’ve got the quicker Cupra, a 280 with a five-door body and DSG automatic transmission, which includes a pair of paddle shifters behind the wheel for when you’re in the mood to choose your own gears.

That means a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.7 seconds (a fraction quicker than an entry-level Porsche Cayman) and a top speed electronically limited to 155mph, like the rest of the range.

SEAT Leon CUpra DSG gearbox

Speccing the automatic gearbox currently adds around £1,285 to the price, and it not only makes the Cupra a tenth quicker from 0-62mph than the manual version but also allows you to keep both hands on the wheel when you’re attacking a set of corners. Does that extra ease of use come at the expense of involvement, though? Would we have more fun with an old-fashioned manual gearbox? We’re looking forward to finding out.

On the economy front, the Cupra emits a surprisingly decent 154g/km of CO2 which means it would cost £180 a year to tax in VED Band G at 2014/15 rates. SEAT claims average fuel economy of 42.8mpg – not bad given the performance figures.

The regular three-door Leon SC we ran on the fleet until recently with a 1.8-litre petrol engine felt feisty enough, but this should be in another league altogether. We’ll report back soon once we’ve got a few miles under our Cupra’s wheels and let you know what it’s like.

You can read our full review of the SEAT Leon Cupra range here