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Seat Leon Cupra

Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: Seat Leon Cupra


On the inside

Layout, finish and space

Inside, the Cupra is much the same as the normal Leon but with various nods to hot hatchery, such as the flat-bottomed steering wheel and Cupra badges. It’s a comfortable place to be, especially if you opt for the bucket seats. One criticism, though, is that the seats don’t go low enough – it feels like you’re sat on top of the car rather than in it. A minor dig, admittedly, but in a hot hatch you should feel like you’re at the centre of the action.

More downsides? The cupholders are too narrow for a refillable water flask. I know this sounds petty, but in 95 per cent of stuff we drive it fits fine… and those in the office will know how attached some of us are to our sippy cups. Also, Seat, dig out a 2013 Leon Cupra and plumb its infotainment back in. Stop deleting all the buttons, the cabin looks a bit dated already and pretending it’s minimalist isn’t going to change that.

On a more positive note, we’d recommend the Estate over the hatch all day. Why accept something smaller, when for £1,000 more you can have an actual hot-hatch with a bigger boot grafted on the back (587-litres vs 380-litres with the rear seats in place stat fans)? Estates look cooler, too, don’t you think?

OK, while we’re at it we’d go for the Cupra R ST, with the ABT upgrade, not because it’s the most expensive, but because it’s a barely-contained psychopath. In a good way. The additional 50bhp doesn’t just add shove, it frees up the engine to fulfil its potential – it revs with more energy, picks up quicker, sounds angrier. And because all this power is deployed through a chassis familiar from the Golf R – one of the friendliest, most sure-footed but agile four-wheel drive set-ups anywhere – you can deploy it whenever you fancy. Sodding wet, off-camber roundabout? Just give it the boot, it’ll stick.