SEAT Leon Cupra R ST - unshakeable performance at speed
The SEAT Leon Cupra R ST may not have a short sharp name but just a minute behind the wheel will bring to mind a short sharp question. Where can I buy one?
Truth to tell, it doesn’t look all that exciting, especially in the Blackness Grey of the test car, but a closer scrutiny picks out little hints as to its uniqueness.
The copper/gold SEAT and Cupra badging, the discreet ST logos, the dual double exhausts, the subtle rear spoiler and the low front vents.
Inside, note the flat-bottomed steering wheel, the metal pedals, the hip-hugging sports seats, the digital instrumentation display and the gold/copper highlights.
But the real joy of the Leon Cupra R ST is not its aesthetics but its unshakeable performance and composure at speed.
The merest hover of the foot over the accelerator is almost enough to set it in motion. It oozes excitement at every gentle tweak of the well-weighted steering and every touch of the fiercely efficient Brembo brakes.
Adaptive dampers, together with tweaked suspension – lowered by 25mm at the front and 5mm at the rear – make for solid, smooth, delightfully flexible progress no matter the road surface, camber or curve.
The ‘adaptive suspension technology’ is all bound up in the Dynamic Chassis Control which itself is governed by the Drive Profile which has three settings developed specifically for the Cupra.
Alongside the Comfort and Sport modes, the Cupra mode is the one to go for. The throttle and steering responses are at their most sensitive while the DSG is adjusted for the sportiest shift. And, just in case you are in any doubt, the sound actuator fires up the full tone of the turbo charged engine. The progressive steering and the front-axle differential lock also operate at their sportiest settings in CUPRA mode.
In addition, traction is maximised via SEAT’s intelligent 4Drive which delivers torque to each axle and/or to each wheel as required.
Power is courtesy of a 2.0litre, 345bhp engine, which is, in fact a retuned version of 296bhp Cupra engine, courtesy of an ABT tuning pack which enables it to zap from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and on to a top speed which red lines at 155mph.
The seven-speed DSG auto with paddle shift is the only transmission on offer. Some will bemoan the lack of short, sharp manual gearing, others will focus their energy on pushing this thoroughly capable DSG to the limit. Priced at £37,975 with the ABT tuning pack adding £500 and 49bhp, the Leon Cupra R ST is not a mass market vehicle but rather one for those who like to spice things up occasionally.
But all this fun comes at a price – not just a financial one – CO2 emissions puther out at the rate of 164g/km and fuel is consumed at the rate of 32mpg to 33.6mpg under the new (more stringent) WLTP testing. But if you are having some sort of crisis, mid-life or otherwise, this is the one to do it in. Safety attributes include multi-collision braking, lane assist, tiredness recognition, front assist, electric parking brake and hill hold control which have all helped earn it a five-star crash test rating.
Cupra is now being formed into a separate high-performance entity which makes the SEAT Leon Cupra R ST the last of its kind.
Verdict: Mid-life crisis looming? This is the one to go for.