Should I buy a Seat Leon Cupra R?

  • Iconic design with carbon fibre copper detailing
  • SEAT’s most powerful engine yet: 310 horsepower
  • Luxurious interior filled with the latest technology
  • All 24 models sent to the UK have now sold out, however the Cupra 3000 is still available to order

Explore the SEAT Leon range

What is the SEAT Leon Cupra R?

Though you may think of SEAT as a maker of safe, reliable and relatively down-to-earth vehicles, it does have several high-octane models in its stable too. This latest car tops the lot – the Cupra R. Extremely limited, with just 24 models heading to the UK, it’s the most driver-focused, hardened version of the Leon hatch yet.

It’s also powered by SEAT’s most powerful engine ever, and produces 10bhp more than the regular Cupra 300 – meaning it’s got plenty of punch to back up its eye-catching looks. A range of other dynamic enhancements have also been added to make it as capable on the road as possible.

Rear view of SEAT Leon CUPRA

What’s new in the SEAT Leon Cupra R?

So, as mentioned, the Cupra R gets a boost in power over the regular Cupra 300, while SEAT has also made significant changes to the way the car handles. For instance, the electrical steering rack is now quicker compared to the 300, while wider rimmed-wheels allow for a wider track, and therefore better cornering ability.

You also get, as you’ll have probably noticed from the pictures, a smattering of copper-coloured touches which, if you’re lucky to see one of the 24 cars on the UK’s roads, will certainly help mark it out. These are matched by similar coloured accents on the interior, too.

What’s under the bonnet of the SEAT Leon Cupra R?

The Cupra R uses SEAT’s tried-and-tested 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which here produces 306bhp and 380Nm – that latter figure remaining unchanged over the Cupra 300. Here, power is sent through a six-speed manual to the front wheels via an electronically controlled differential. A dual-clutch automatic was available, though only for left-hand-drive versions of the Cupra R.

Performance is brisk enough. The sprint to 60mph is dispatched in 5.6 seconds, while the car’s top speed is a surprisingly hefty 155mph. Despite these rather impressive figures, Seat claims 38.7mpg on the combined cycle, while emissions are set at 170g/km CO2 – which aren’t half bad.

Remember that this still has to be a properly useable road car, which is why despite the inclusion of tweaked suspension and more horsepower, you still won’t have to spend too long at the fuel pumps.

What’s the SEAT Leon Cupra R like to drive?

Now despite only including a series of relatively subtle changes over the regular 300, the Cupra R feels sharp out on the road – really sharp, in fact. The steering rack, which is now quicker than before, means that turn-in feels pin-point accurate. It adds an excellent sense of energy to the whole car, which is exactly what you want from a hot hatch. The brakes, which are upgraded Brembo versions, have plenty of feel to them and effectively bring the car to a stop.

Then we come to the engine. Now a 10bhp boost may not sound like much, but it certainly gives the Cupra R a significant amount of shove at the top end of the rev range – though lower down it feels mostly similar to its slightly-less-powerful stablemate.

Side view of SEAT Leon CUPRA Driving on a road

How does the SEAT Leon Cupra R look?

The regular Leon Cupra is a good-looking car in its own right, and the R simply builds on this with some of its own bespoke touches. The copper touches certainly give it a fair amount of impact, though some may find them a touch garish. In our eyes, however, the Cupra R looks genuinely special, with the 19-inch alloys finished in grey with contrasting copper accents a real standout feature.

Does it look markedly different to the regular Cupra? From some angles – such as the back – then yes, while dead-on it’s hard to distinguish the two from one another.

What’s the SEAT Leon Cupra R like inside?

The basic architecture of the Cupra R’s cabin is essentially the same as the Cupra 300. However, you do get vast swathes of Alcantara for a sportier feel, applied to areas such as the steering wheel and gearlever. And then, when you dial away these extra touches, you’re still left with an incredibly useable and practical bodystyle. There’s plenty of room for both those sat up front, while there’s a good amount of leg and headroom for those sat in the rear.

The Leon’s excellent 380-litre boot space remains unchanged, and this can be extended by folding the rear seats flat up to an impressive 1,210 litres – so it’s more than large enough to deal with most situations.

SEAT Leon CUPRA interior

What’s the SEAT Leon Cupra R spec like?

Our test car came in at £34,995, and for that you got a bumper crop of standard equipment. There’s an eight-inch infotainment screen with satellite navigation and media functions, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for full smartphone integration. You also get a full BeatsAudio sound system, which does provide a decent – albeit slightly bass-heavy – sound.

Exterior-wise, there’s the characterful dual exhaust system which genuinely adds an extra air of performance to the car’s mannerisms, along with redesigned front and rear bumpers. There’s also a Seat drive mode selector included as standard, with four different selections allowing you to tailor the car as you see fit. You also get cruise control, which will be helpful to those planning on taking their Cupra Rs on slightly lengthier journeys.


The SEAT Leon Cupra R may be an extremely limited-run, rarer-than-rare hot hatch, but that doesn’t stop it from being brilliantly enjoyable to drive. It looks special, and certainly feels close to as special behind the wheel too. The engine puts out more than enough performance, while the few mechanical upgrades that have been fitted do so as to elevate the whole experience even further. The only question remains; why hasn’t SEAT made more of them?



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