From £25,4958
Fastest Seat estate gets even faster with manufacturer-approved tune

Our Verdict

Seat Leon Cupra

New hot hatch promises to outgun its rivals, including the Volkswagen Golf GTI

21 June 2019

What is it?

There’s something decidedly satisfying about a fast estate car. A good one lets drivers make compromises without feeling that life is getting the better of them - and this limited edition Leon might just be one of the best of the breed. As we know, Cupra makes Seats go faster, and this is the fastest of the lot, so far.

The Leon Cupra R Abt 4Drive ST (try casually dropping that little lot into a conversation) begins life as a regular Leon Cupra ST. The R version brings about a host of stylistic changes – real carbon-fibre, fake carbon-fibre, Cupra copper colouring, Alcantara, you get the picture – while the Abt element (a £500 option) sees the German tuning house delve into the matrix of the engine’s ECU and upgrade the exhaust to release 345bhp.

There is nothing clever about the way this has been achieved. But what matters is that the result edges the Leon closer to the current crowd of hyper hatches and does so with the full permission of Seat, so buyers can sleep soundly at night knowing the manufacturer’s warranty remains intact.

Just 150 of these will be sold in the UK, and a third have already gone. In addition to the cosmetic enhancements and boosted four-cylinder turbocharged engine, Cupra has fitted new uprights to better manage the front suspension assembly, and tweaked the negative camber to 2 degrees, at the front and back, to better maintain each tyre’s contact patch when you’re playing a cheeky game of harrying a Porsche 911 driver in what, to the untrained eye, could pass for a diesel Seat estate.

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What's it like?

If you’re after a fast estate car that’s just the right size and has something approaching the optimum power-to-grip ratio, to be flung about a B-road with as much degree of abandon as you choose – when the kids aren’t aboard, naturally - look no further.

The Abt package provides a meaningful amount of mid-range muscle that’s most noticeable when a road opens out ahead and you get to work the engine through its mid-range, in third and fourth gears.

Here, it offers an impressive turn of pace. As the digital rev counter’s animated needle swings past 2000rpm, there’s effortless pace, and by 4000rpm the engine redoubles its efforts, with the exhaust’s four tailpipes bringing that combustion process into the cabin. It’s a more authentic experience than the regular Cupra provides.

With four-wheel drive, the chassis never wants for traction, while the levels of grip (thanks to Continental Sport Contact tyres) are impressive. It also manages to ride over bumps without shaking your head off your shoulders.

Compared with a regular Cupra the R feels just a touch keener to bite at the road surface as you turn-in, and its balance with the ESP system switched off is pleasingly neutral.

Brembo brakes are more than up to the task of managing the R’s cross-country pace, but there's a weak link that rears its head while decelerating hard: in manual mode, the seven-speed DSG gearbox doesn’t shift down early enough – a continual annoyance that’s all the more irritating given this model’s specialist nature. The aesthetics of the R are a matter of personal taste, too. This reviewer happens to like the distinctly different carbon and copper vibe; traditionalists might find the approach sits somewhere towards the Pimp My Ride end of the taste spectrum.

Inside, Alcantara is wrapped around the steering wheel, gearlever and sports seat inserts. Copper-coloured trim replaces piano-black finish and the digital driver display and infotainment system work a treat.

There are more practical considerations, of course, such as how it copes with everyday family life. The boot will swallow 587-litres of luggage, the sides are intrusion-free and dropping the seats can be done from the boot opening or the seats themselves. There’s no powered tailgate, but when you can open and close it faster by hand, there’s less to go wrong and less weight, do you really care?

Should I buy one?

If you want a family car that’s fast, rare and a bit of a hoot to drive when undertaking more than just the school run, the Cupra R ST should be right up your street.

Seriously interested parties should get their skates on, though. Just 150 will be sold in the UK, and given that the Abt pack is a £500 add-on that comes backed by Seat’s warranty, it’s an option buyers would be silly to ignore. And with standalone sub-brand Cupra set to swallow the fastest next-generation Leon in a year or two's time, it might also be the last of the breed.

More exciting than a Golf R or Skoda vRS, it’s a bit of a belter with a boot.

James Mills

Seat Leon Cupra R ABT 4Drive ST​ UK​ specification

Where Liverpool, UK Price £38,475 On sale now Engine 4cyls inline, 1984cc, turbocharged petrol Power 345bhp at 5300rpm Torque 295lb ft at 2000rpm Gearbox 7-spd twin-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1557kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 4.7sec Fuel economy 32.1-33.6mpg CO2 164g/km Rivals Skoda Octavia vRS estate; Volkswagen Golf R estate

Join the debate

Comments
9

21 June 2019

 Can’t understand why VW let Seat do it, produce a car that’s infinitely more of a hoot to own and drive and at a reasonable price too.

Peter Cavellini.

21 June 2019

My job means I need an estate and it's a damn shame that I can't go for petrol as I would have one of these in a heartbeat.

21 June 2019

I thought Cupra had become it's own brand... What's this? a Seat or a Cupra? 

21 June 2019
So mainland Europe gets the Seat Leon Cupra ST Carbon Edition with a claimed 370ps on 100 octane fuel. I've never seen 100 octane fuel available in the UK. I would save a few grand and buy myself a regular Cupra ST then have a chat with either Revo or Superchips. I think it's rather audacious of VAG and other companies to charge so much for essentially a remap and a bit of trim.

21 June 2019
So mainland Europe gets the Seat Leon Cupra ST Carbon Edition with a claimed 370ps on 100 octane fuel. I've never seen 100 octane fuel available in the UK. I would save a few grand and buy myself a regular Cupra ST then have a chat with either Revo or Superchips. I think it's rather audacious of VAG and other companies to charge so much for essentially a remap and a bit of trim.

21 June 2019
m2srt wrote:

I think it's rather audacious of VAG and other companies to charge so much for essentially a remap and a bit of trim.

 

It's £500 for the ABT pack which contains the remap and exhaust work, and you keep the manufacturer's warranty. Revo charge £718.80 for just their stage one remap, and you lose the manufacturer's warranty.

jer

21 June 2019

The cost will be the discount %. If only 150 I guess it will be small whereas the standard version could be had for much less.

22 June 2019

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