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Seat Leon Cupra

8/10
Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: Seat Leon Cupra

£18,645£32,250

Driving

What is it like on the road?

Unsurprisingly, a family hatch with all that power isn’t slow. 0-62mph times range from 5.8 seconds to under 4.8 in the ABT enhanced ST, but it’s the way the power builds that’s impressive. There’s no sudden dump of torque, just a crescendo of turbo boost that doesn’t let up until you’re well north of, ahem, legality. But the good thing is that the Cupra isn’t manic, it’s civilised and capable, and it’s just as happy pottering as it is blasting along.

The Dynamic Chassis Control and mechanical front diff help. The former is a system for controlling the adjustable dampers and lets the driver select various levels of stiffness. The good thing is that unlike previous models, none are too hard, so the Cupra manages the bi-polar hot hatch trick well. You don’t have to drive this thing flat out all the time. But it responds well if you do.

Particularly the R models that receive more negative camber and retuned steering, bigger Brembo brakes and the option to specify sticky Michelin Cup tyres for £855. The suspension is no lower, but a new bodykit conceals the R’s marginally wider tracks and gives it a better stance than standard. There’s also (too) much bronzing, and inside, Alcantara on the wheel and gearlever.

In Comfort mode, as pliant and subdued as you’d ever want. The seats are comfortable, there’s adaptive cruise control, the brand’s latest infotainment system, a decent stereo and lots of safety kit.

Next up is Sport mode, which as modes go is entirely pointless. You’ll skip to Cupra, or set your own and save it to the Individual setting. In Cupra things get firmer, but even then it’s firm but not jarring. The steering tightens up too, and the revised exhaust starts emitting childish (yet satisfying and quite addictive) pops and cracks if you’re accelerating hard and go for another gear.

Even without optional sticky tyres the Cupra hangs on gamely even on damp roads. Where the front-wheel drive Cupras feel a touch frenetic when you put your foot down – they scrabble for traction and the wheel writhes in your hands even in the dry.

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

8/10

Volkswagen Golf R

£18,325£31,020
A Golf R. More expensive, but more powerful and four-wheel drive. And posher, and we all like a spot of posh

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