What is it?
Militant in matt black or grey, the latest Cupra R is a new high-water mark for fast Seats. Limited to just 799 examples, it represents the most powerful road car the brand has built, and the culmination (for now) of a procession of increasingly hardcore Leon variants.
The mechanical setup will be familiar to many, Volkswagen Group’s turbocharged ‘EA888’ 2.0-litre TSI driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox that remains unchanged from the previously most potent Leon, the Cupra 300. Developing 306bhp from 5800-6500rpm, on paper this engine is an identical sibling to the thunderously effective unit found in the trackday-ready Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S.
The Cupra R has 10bhp more than the Cupra 300, channelled through the same electronic locking differential. But it gets unique adaptive dampers, which along with the steering and throttle mapping are changeable through five selectable modes, including a new Cupra setting.
Styling enhancements include wheelarch extensions that shroud wider tracks, front and rear. There are also numerous new parts fashioned in carbonfibre, including a snow-scraper of a front splitter, side skirts and a neat rear spoiler with a corresponding diffuser below it. Meanwhile the front intake blades, 19-inch wheels, door mirrors and various badges – inside and out – are thrown into relief by a copper shade of paint. Consider also the paint finish on our test car and you’ll be hard pushed to find a more divisively styled hot hatch.
The interior is rather more prosaic, with little more than an engraving of the car’s production number on the transmission tunnel, further copper accents and a pair of heavily bolstered seats. In fact the most noticeable – and welcome – change is the use of Alcantara trim for the steering wheel and gearstick, and Seat’s engineers have been keen to point out that this car is quicker than the stripped-out Cupra 280 Sub8 despite retaining all the normal model’s mod cons, from radar cruise control to an 8.0-inch touchscreen.
British buyers get the Leon Cupra R with a manual gearbox. Other markets – of which Germany will be the largest – have the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, for which the engine sacrifices 10bhp. The matt paint is also not for UK consumption (Seat won’t say why) – we’ll get a choice of either black or grey.