What is it?
This is not, I repeat not, a Cupra Leon R ST. Never mind the aggressive styling, quad tailpipes or shouty alloys - just ignore all of that. What this grey and copper-coated thug of a fast estate is, is a Seat: the Seat Leon Cupra R ST, to be exact, and only 150 of them are coming to the UK.
It seems a bit of a backwards step in terms of naming strategy, doesn’t it? Especially when you remember how militant Martorell was in its insistence that the Cupra Ateca was, you know, a Cupra and definitely not a Seat. Establishing a dedicated performance arm and then not naming your latest - and potentially most appealing - performance machine accordingly seems odd to me, but I’m no branding whizz. Seat says that as this generation of Leon was Cupra-ised before the sub-brand split, it will continue to call it a Seat until the next-generation Leon comes along. So it’ll be 2020 before we see a genuine Cupra Leon, then.
In the meantime, Seat Leon Cupra R ST will have to do. And, head-scratcher of a naming strategy aside, it bears all the hallmarks of a proper road weapon. As with the Leon Cupra R hatchback, the Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous EA888 engine sits at its nose, where it develops 296bhp and 295lb ft. But while the hatch is a front-driven manual, the estate’s power is distributed to all four wheels via a seven-speed DSG.
Such a set-up will no doubt be familiar (think Audi SQ2, Volkswagen Golf R et al), but here it carries a bit more significance: Seat claims this is its first car capable of hitting 62mph from a standstill in less than five seconds. Admittedly, 4.9sec is only a touch below that mark, but the novelty of being able to do it in a practical wagon with a 482-litre boot and enough room in the back for two taller adults will take some time to wear thin.Elsewhere, the Leon Cupra R ST gets new suspension uprights to increase negative camber at both axles to two degrees; adaptive dampers for even tighter body control; 340mm Brembo front brakes; super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres; and an Alcantara-clad interior. How very sporty.