SEAT Leon Cupra: London Calling

  • Our Leon makes a trip into the heart of the capital
  • Performed very well with a couple of small bugbears
  • Brilliant 2-litre engine remains a real highlight

I try to avoid it if I can, but recently I couldn’t get around it. I had to drive right into the middle of London.

My wife and I were booked into a very posh hotel just off Oxford Street. The Sanderson doesn’t look much from the outside, but just wait until you step through the door.

We’d booked Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea for 2pm on the Friday, so set off in plenty of time to drive down the A1 and into the Big Smoke. At first, with a full tank of petrol and tunes on the stereo things were going well. In fact, the journey was faultless right up until I entered the city, at which point any hopes of driving in a normal manner flew right out of the window.

I was very thankful for the DSG automatic gearbox. Driving in London becomes several magnitudes worse if you’re in stop-start traffic changing gears yourself.

Another thing I noticed is how good the visibility is around the car. I’ve got a great driving position set up now, and never struggle to see what’s going on around me.

The boot coped well with the amount of luggage we had; small bag for me and almost a shipping container for the wife and her ancillaries.

Life was made slightly more difficult by the sat-nav, though. It’s frustratingly slow to update and I found myself missing turnings on occasion as the processor hadn’t caught up with itself yet.

The Cupra’s turning circle could be better as well. It’s fairly common for hot hatches to have larger turning circles, and that definitely is the case here. For the most part it doesn’t make much difference, but occasionally you find yourself in a car park doing more three- or five-point turns that you’d expect.

I did find the engine an entertaining thing, though. There’s a lot of accelerating away from traffic lights in London, and hearing the 2-litre turbocharged engine and all the noise it makes never fails to illicit a small smile.

I’m a child at heart, obviously.

Mileage: 2,580      Fuel Economy: 22mpg