The Seat Leon rides and handles just as well as a Golf. This is where VW’s investment in that multi-link rear axle really pays dividends. It allows the Leon to corner with absolute assurance, exhibiting good grip in all weathers, while serving up a ride that many cars costing twice as much would be proud to call their own.
Even the electric power steering – a configuration that often leads to compromised road feel – transmits enough information about the road surface to allow the car to be driven with real confidence.
Interested in the sound of a diesel hot hatch? The 2.0 TDI FR+ model also has plenty to recommend. The ride is firm, but not unusually so for a hot hatch, and body control is commendable. Turn-in isn’t razor-sharp, but there’s enough poise and steering feel to make snaking progress enjoyable.
The big wheels do telegraph bumps and thumps into the cabin, but there’s never a rattle to be heard. Grip is impressive, positively supplemented by the XDS electronic differential and well-judged traction control. Stopping power is good after a degree of dead travel from the big pedal.
The Leon Cupra R drives like a very well-sorted fast hatch. It’s stable even under extreme braking and copes well with rapid mid-bend steering adjustments, remaining unflustered and benefiting from ample grip. Understeer is evident if you really want to find the Cupra R’s limits.
Ride quality is generally well-judged though there can be quite bouncy over undulating road surfaces and there’s noticeable tyre-roar from the standard 19-inchers. But overall the Cupra R gels well and does a good job of being entertaining without being too hardcore on the road and also well-sorted for track driving if it appeals.