What originally started out as a Golf GTI in disguise has evolved into something that is so much more. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Seat Leon Cupra R. It didn’t wear the legendary VW badge, but I think that’s why I liked it so much.

It was rare and different, hence why it’s so unique to this very day. There’s no Golf GTI wagon, but there is a Cupra one. You get the point. Seat likes to do things differently, and that makes their cars feel special.

As good as the new Civic Type R is, I’m not too impressed by it. Yes it’s fast, but it’s a bit clinical. It suffers from what I like to call the ‘GT-R’ syndrome.

It’s fast and capable but not particularly involving or engaging. Weirdly, the GT-R is anything but not involving, it’s just a misconception people who haven’t driven one have.

The New Seat Leon Cupra R
The new Seat Leon Cupra R

Anyway, back to the newest edition of the Seat Leon Cupra R. In essence, Seat has taken the Cupra and spiced things up. The EA888 four-cylinder turbocharged engine has been tweaked to produce an extra 10 horsepower, raising the current total to 306 horsepower. It’s still down on power compared to the Type R or the all-wheel drive Focus RS, but quite frankly, I don’t care.

Seat has focused on what matters and tweaked nearly every suspension component. The front camber has been adjusted and even the adaptive dampers haven’t been left untouched.

Seat doesn’t offer any official information regarding that, but my guess is they’re several percents stiffer overall. Because it’s most definitely going to be faster, Seat has fitted larger Brembo brakes for massive stopping power.

Visually, the Seat Leon Cupra R sports new front and rear bumpers, with a lovely pair of vents at the back. The spoiler on top of the trunk is larger, and it gets several carbon-fiber and copper-finished elements. The exhaust system is new too, so here’s hoping it lets the Leon clear its throat better.

Seat Leon Cupra back

You can spec it with a DSG, but due to drivetrain losses, you’ll be looking at ‘just’ 296 horsepower. In a hot hatchback though, I still don’t see why anyone would have anything other than a manual.

It’s involving and a lot more fun, both qualities I’d definitely take over sheer speed. No one cares if the DSG is faster by 0.1 of a second if it does most of the work for you. I’m not saying the DSG isn’t fun, but it’s not as exciting. The manual adds another dimension.

The kicker is that just 799 examples will be made, and all are probably destined for Europe. Still, if you want one, I’m sure there are ways to import them. The closest thing to a Seat Leon Cupra R is a Golf R, but I’d have the spritely Cupra R over the Golf any day of the week.

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Stefan Petrov
I love everything that has to do with cars. I could practically name every manufacturer and model before i could even say mom or dad. Recently i've taken up motorsport, with plans to travel to England and compete should the perfect opportunity arise. In my spare time i like to do some biking, and occasionally play the guitar.