2018 Seat Leon Cupra R
Spanish automaker makes its presence felt in the hot hatch segmentby Kirby Garlitos, on LISTEN 09:41
The 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show is just around the corner and we’re already getting a steady stream of cars that will be in attendance at the event. One car that has our attention is a hot hatchback from an automaker that normally doesn’t get its share of the spotlight. Prepare yourselves as Seat is looking to take Frankfurt by storm with the new Leon Cupra R, the automaker’s most powerful road car in history.
The Leon Cupra R will be joined by the likes of the Ibiza and the Leon Cupra Evo 17 in Frankfurt, but make no mistake, the Cupra R will be the highlight of Seat’s booth, in large part because of its status as a limited edition model and its significance for the company moving forward. Remember, Seat recently filed trademark applications for a Cupra sub-brand, seemingly separating the model from the entire Seat family in hopes of turning it into a performance sub-brand. I can’t help but wonder then if the Leon Cupra R is more than just a limited edition hot hatch, but a preview of sorts of what we can expect from the Cupra sub-brand in the event that its separation from Seat does happen. For now, though, our attention should be on the Frankfurt-bound Leon Cupra R. With its credentials, the hot hatch has at least earned its place as one of the most exciting cars to hit the upcoming motor show.
Continue after the jump to read more about the Seat Leon Cupra R.
2018 Seat Leon Cupra R
Horsepower @ RPM:310
0-60 time:5.5 sec.
Top Speed:155 mph (Est.)
The first thing you’ll notice about the Seat Leon Cupra R is that it still takes the form of the Leon Cupra 300, the car that it’s likely based from. The angular, Audi-like headlights remain, as do the tout body and shoulder lines that give it that aggressive look. That said, there’s a reason that the special edition model has an “R” badge in it. The body itself features plenty of aerodynamic bits, not the least of which are the larger air intakes that evoke the design of those found in Lamborghinis. The front spoiler is also different, having now been made from carbon fiber. Same thing with the side skirts and the rear spoiler, both of which also use the premium lightweight material.
Compare the look of the Leon Cupra R to the Leon Cupra 300 and you’ll see a stark difference in posture.
On the cosmetic front, the Leon Cupra R will be available in three distinct colors: Midnight Black, Pyrenees Grey, and Matte Grey. Copper trim is also visible in the car, specifically used on the side mirrors, wheels, intakes, and the Seat badge located right smack in the middle of the hot hatch’s front grille.
Compare the look of the Leon Cupra R to the Leon Cupra 300 and you’ll see a stark difference in posture. As impressive as the Leon Cupra 300 is, the Leon Cupra R just looks naturally sportier and far more aggressive than any road car that Seat has ever produced.
Note: side-by-side photo of the Seat Leon Cupra R and the Seat Leon Cupra 300.
Note: Standard Seat Leon pictured here.
At this point, the Spanish automaker hasn’t shown any photos of the Leon Cupra R’s interior, so we’re going to have to get creative to have a clear picture of what we can expect from the limited edition hot hatch.
What we do know at this point is that the exterior defining copper accents can also be found in the cabin, possibly in trim or accent form. According to Seat, the interior will also host a generous amount of carbon fiber and Alcantara, the latter of which is tipped to be used on the steering wheel and gearstick of the car.
The interior will also host a generous amount of carbon fiber and Alcantara, the latter of which is tipped to be used on the steering wheel and gearstick of the car
As far as the layout is concerned, I don’t expect there to be any changes at all. The same clean design of the Cupra Leon 300 should be present in the “R” version. It’s not the most impressive interior we’ve seen, but as far as being up-to-the-times, the Cupra Leon R should also receive a new center console, an electronic parking brake, and an advanced sound insulation that helps minimize the noise coming inside the car from the road. Expect more details to arrive on this section of the hot hatch when it officially makes its debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.
The Seat Leon Cupra R is largely defined by two things: it’s a limited edition model and more importantly, it holds the distinction of being the most powerful road-going car Seat has ever made.
The latter title is impressive though it must also be said that its power output isn’t too far away from the Leon Cupra 300 and the Leon Cupra wagon, both of which come with 300 horsepower. Still, if every single horsepower counts as something significant in your eyes, the Leon Cupra R stands head and shoulders above everybody else thanks in large part to an output that goes up to as much as 310 horsepower when it’s equipped with a manual transmission. That’s an important caveat because customers who opt for the DSG-equipped version will only get 300 horsepower out of their Cupra Leon Rs.
The Leon Cupra R stands head and shoulders above everybody else thanks in large part to an output that goes up to as much as 310 horsepower
Whichever transmission option you get, the Leon Cupra R’s power is going to be sent to the front wheels, owing to the hot hatch’s front-wheel drive configuration. Should you wish for a grippier ride, Seat’s 4Drive traction all-wheel drive system is available on the longer wagon version of the model, though you will have to make some compromises, all thanks to the car’s added weight.
Performance numbers haven’t been announced at this point but expect the Leon Cupra R to be capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than the Leon Cupra 300. Top speed is likely to be limited to 155 mph, though if you want to unlock more of the hot hatch’s potential, the aftermarket scene is as good a place as any to find the key.
Seat hasn’t announced how much the Leon Cupra R is going to cost. It should be pricier than the Cupra Leon 300, which has a starting price in the U.K. of £30,155, or just under $40,000 based on current exchange rates. If I were to make an estimate, I think the Leon Cupra R will retail for around £32,000 to £35,000 ($41,300 to $45,200) as only 799 units of the model will be made available.
It goes without saying that the hot hatch market is alive, healthy, and super competitive in the European market. The Seat Leon Cupra R, as impressive as it is, still has to deal with a lot of competition in this region. Chief among the competitors is the long-standing Volkswagen Golf R Mk VII. While it’s true that this generation’s Golf R is a little bit long in the tooth compared to its rivals, the hot hatch still packs a menacing punch. That’s largely due to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that packs a tidy 295 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. It’s not as much as the Cupra Leon R, or other hot hatchbacks for that matter, but it’s still the Golf R. Its place as one of the top models of its segment is secure.
Read out full review on the Volkswagen Golf R.
Speaking of a hot hatch that’s dripping in its own vat of power, the Ford Focus RS is a market favorite. It’s relatively new compared to some of its rivals. It also has a good amount of tech features – drift mode! – that stand out. Most important is that it has one of the highest power ratings of any hot hatch in the segment. It packs a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that pumps out a staggering 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. That power is sent to all four wheels, making the Focus RS one of the most formidable hot hatchbacks on the market today.
Read our full review on the Ford Focus RS.
A very pleasant surprise of a car from a rather surprising source. That’s my first reaction upon seeing the Seat Leon Cupra R. It looks the part of a limited edition model. It has plenty of premium materials in it. Best of all, it’s got enough power to really make a difference in this super competitive segment.
I am surprised though that Seat is offering this hot hatch as a limited edition model, but if the company’s plan for doing so is to gauge the market for long-term interest, I’m on board with it, especially if there’s really more to the automaker’s plans of establishing Cupra as a separate performance brand. Could this be a sign of things to come then? Perhaps. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what the Spanish automaker has up its sleeves for the future.
Read our full review on the Seat Leon Cupra 300.
Read our full review on the Seat Leon.