SEAT Leon Cupra - Let's slow things down a bit

  • The Cupra's low-speed manners explored
  • How much comfort would you compromise?
  • Highlights include seats and auto 'box

I have to spend far more of my life than I’d like sitting in traffic jams. In fact, over recent weeks I’ve been stuck in some particularly awful ones. The M25 on Friday evening truly has to be the worst road on earth.

While sat waiting for the inevitable crawl to 10mph before stopping dead again, it gave me ample time to evaluate the Cupra’s low-speed manners.

The first thing to note is that I’m incredibly grateful for the automatic gearbox. It makes such trundling far easier than if I had to regularly swap between first and second gears. For the most part you barely have to touch the throttle, simply lifting off the brake being enough to edge forwards.

It’s a fairly comfortable place to be as well thanks to the highly supportive sports seats installed in the hottest Leon out there. They keep you snug yet aren’t too restrictive. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the ride quality though – even in ‘Comfort’ setting it’s an unforgiving thing, the car’s stiffness a real penalty here.

Also thanks to the stiff suspension and low-profile tyres, I’ve noticed that it’s an extremely loud car too. It isn’t the exhaust that’s the problem (you can adjust its volume using the adaptive dynamics anyway) but the sheer amount of road noise transferred to the cabin. When you don’t have the excellent stereo on there’s a surprising roar from the wheels, and you notice this most at low speeds. After a bit of playing with the various drive modes I’ve also found that putting the differential into a sporty setting makes this a lot worse.

Factor some speed bumps into the equation and the Cupra really starts to suffer. It’s far more unforgiving than most cars I’m lucky enough to drive this side of an outright sports car. For a dash of perspective here, while afflicted with a foot injury the wife and I decided to take her Ford Fiesta to the hospital rather than the Leon because it is significantly more comfortable over the ten speed bumps I have to navigate to get out of our housing estate. With that in mind, having a 'Comfort' mode on the Leon seems somewhat incongruous. 

You’d probably put up with a bit of discomfort though; this is a performance car, a hot-hatch, and there has to be some compromise somewhere. If it were my cash I’d be happy because for all the times you’re going slowly, there’s always going to be that magical B-road blast that makes it all worthwhile.

Mileage: 4,565

Fuel economy: 24.2mpg