Hot hatch aficionados have been in the know about SEAT’s excellent CUPRA range for some time. The announcement of a limited production run of a super- special R model has no doubt proved particularly enticing – especially as only 799 models were built during the first half of 2018, and a mere 24 of them destined for our shores.
If you’re not one of the lucky ones familiar with this compact and stylish power-house, you’re seriously missing out. Propelled by a masterful 310PS/ 6-speed manual box combination, the front-wheel-drive R delivers a 0-62mph sprinting speed of just 5.8 seconds, and a top flight limited to 155. A new steering system, modified camber angles on the front axle, four piston Brembo brake callipers and crucially, a retuned exhaust system with even racier note all contribute to its performance prowess.
It’s a car you just have to tear around in, it’s impossible not to hang back in traffic until you have a nice gap to race into, and go out of your way to find bridges and tunnels to drive through to hear the delicious roar of the exhaust. It’s exhilarating, fun and addictive.
It’s not all about the performance though – one thing that also sets this model apart from the other hot hatches around, is its understated good looks. There are plenty of details though to set this model apart from other Leons. There’s carbon fibre details for the rear spoiler, lower lip spoiler, side skirts and rear diffuser. Newly extended wheel arches and the front benefit from a more powerful design around the air intakes. Copper colouring is also a key theme and comes into play on the door mirrors, CUPRA tailgate lettering, and copper and black 19-inch CUPRA R alloy wheels. Two metallic paint options are available, Monsoon Grey and Midnight Black, both of which are included in the car’s price.
Inevitably, as the flagship of the Leon CUPRA range, the R also ushers in an upgraded interior. The copper treatment continues on the inside, with the hue being carried through to the detailing on the dashboard, centre console, door panel stitching and steering wheel CUPRA logo. Rounding off the sport-oriented look and feel is Alcantara® for the gearstick, steering wheel and front bucket seats with copper stitching. Underlining their exclusivity, each car will also feature a numbered plaque.
The equipment specification of the Leon CUPRA R is as impressive as its looks and performance. Over the Leon CUPRA 300, the new flagship receives KESSY (Keyless Enter & Go with Wireless Phone Charger), Winter Pack (heated front seats and headlight washers), rear view camera, Safety Pack (Tiredness recognition System and rear seatbelt reminder), BeatsAudio sound system with 10 speakers, adaptive cruise control and lastly, Navigation System High (eight-inch touchscreen, Full Link, dynamic route guidance with 3D map display and 3D emblematic buildings, 10GB hard disk drive).
Over all, the CUPRA R is a thrilling car gifting real driver engagement, and also, dare we say it, a pretty practical one to own and live with too. This is one model I really was pretty gutted to hand back at the end of the loan.