A better-looking alternative to the Volkswagen Golf R Estate

Unveiled in 2012, the latest-generation Seat Leon was updated in 2017 and gained the most extreme Cupra package to date for the 2018 model year. Less than a year has passed, and the Spanish firm gave the same treatment to the ST station wagon model. Introduced at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show in March, the Leon Cupra R ST is identical to its hatchback sibling, but benefits from a larger trunk, which makes it a full-fledged competitor for the Volkswagen Golf R Estate.

The compact wagon arrived with a rather awkward timing, just as Seat turned the Cupra into a stand-alone brand. Starting this year, the company’s high-performance models will no longer have a "Seat" badge, but their own logos, although they will still use the nameplate. However, it turns out that some Seat cars will still wear "Cupra" identification, including this new station wagon. Whether this will go on only until the current models are discontinued is not yet known, but if you want both the "Seat" and "Cupra" badges on your car, you’d better hurry.

Continue reading to learn more about the Seat Leon CUPRA R ST.

Seat Leon CUPRA R ST Exterior

- * Aggressive front bumper
- * Black grille
- * Carbon-fiber splitter
- * Bespoke alloy wheels
- * Carbon-fiber mirror caps
- * Sporty diffuser
- * Copper accents

2018 Seat Leon CUPRA R ST Exterior
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The front fascia is as aggressive as they get, with a big three-piece grille in the bumper

The ST model is identical to the hatchback from every angle, except the longer roof. And this is a good thing, as the Cupra R is one of the hottest looking compact cars out there. The front fascia is as aggressive as they get, with a big three-piece grille in the bumper. All openings have a honeycomb mesh, but the side vents also feature gloss-black surrounds on the outside and copper detailing on the inside. The big, trapezoidal outlet in the center bumper gives the car a wider stance. Below, the splitter is bigger than usual and made from carbon-fiber, something you don’t see very often on a Seat. The main grille remains similar to the standard model, but it’s now finished in black, while the "S" logo has copper accents.

The profile retains the shape of the regular station wagon, including the muscular fenders and the nicely carved lower door area. But it stands out thanks to a slightly lower ride height and a unique wheel design with five double spokes finished in black copper accents. The Cupra R look is rounded off by carbon-fiber mirror caps. The rear also looks familiar, but the special diffuser gives the wagon a sportier look. The aerodynamic element is made from carbon-fiber and incorporates wider exhaust pipes with "Cupra" lettering.

Seat Leon CUPRA R ST Interior

- * Copper trim
- * Flat-bottom steering wheel
- * Custom display
- * Alcantara upholstery
- * Sports pedals
- * Race-inspired seats

2018 Seat Leon CUPRA R ST Interior
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The steering wheel, which has a flat bottom, has copper stitching and it’s wrapped in Alcantara

The interior of the Cupra R isn’t significantly different from the standard model, but it does stand out thanks to a range of features you normally find in performance-oriented cars. The copper-accented theme continues inside here as well, with the dark gold-like highlights seen around the center stack, the A/C vents, around the center console, and on the "S" badge on the steering wheel. The steering wheel, which has a flat bottom, has copper stitching and it’s wrapped in Alcantara for a rally-inspired look. Most of the details on the doors are finished in black, while the main panels have a new pattern that somewhat resembles the structure of carbon-fiber.

The seats have a sportier design too, with heavier bolstering for better support during spirited driving. The center sections are wrapped in Alcantara, while the sides are dressed in leather and copper stitching. The sports pedals and the new floor mats round off the design. As usual, both the instrument cluster and the infotainment displays have custom graphics with extra information on performance.

Seat Leon CUPRA R ST Performance

- * Turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder
- * 300 horsepower
- * 280 pound-feet of torque
- * DSG automatic transmission
- * 0 to 62 mph in 5.9 seconds
- * Top speed of 155 mph
- * Slower than the Golf R

2018 Seat Leon CUPRA R ST Exterior
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The unit pumps out 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque thanks to an update it received in 2017

The station wagon gets its juice from the same engine as the hatchback model, so look for a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder under the hood. The unit pumps out 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque thanks to an update it received in 2017. The increase added ten horsepower and 22 pound-feet over the previous engine.

But while specs are similar, the station wagon is only offered with the DSG automatic transmission. It’s worth noting that hatchback model benefits from 310 horsepower when equipped with the manual, so if you want the grocery getter, you will miss on having the most powerful Leon as of 2018. On the other hand, the station wagon can be optioned up with the 4Drive all-wheel-drive system, which isn’t available on the hatchback.

Performance figures aren’t yet available, but the wagon should be able to hit 62 mph from a standing start in less than six seconds. With the hatchback rated at 5.8 clicks, the long roof version will probably get there in 5.9 seconds. Top speed is limited to the usual 155 mph.

Seat Leon CUPRA R ST Pricing

2018 Seat Leon CUPRA R ST Exterior
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Pricing information is not yet available, but the Cupra R should cost a bit more than the Cupra 300 it is based on. The latter starts from £32,595 with the DSG automatic transmission in the United Kingdom, so that the Cupra R ST could retail from around £36,000 before options. In Germany, the Cupra R ST should start from around €44,000.

Seat Leon CUPRA R ST Competition

Volkswagen Golf R Variant

2018 Volkswagen Golf R High Resolution Exterior
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While the Ford Focus RS isn’t available as a wagon, the Volkswagen Golf R is. Actually, the Golf R Variant arrived before the TS version of the Cupra R. Just like before, the Leon rides on the same underpinnings as the Golf, so it’s not surprising that the two wagons share the same drivetrain. Engine specs are actually identical, with the turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the Golf R generating the same 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of twist. Transmissions are also the same, with both the six-speed manual and the seven-speed DSG automatic on offer. However, when equipped with the DSG and the all-wheel-drive system, the Golf R Variant is notably quicker than the Leon Cupra R ST, needing less than 5.5 seconds to get to 155 mph. Styling-wise, the Golf R looks rather bland when compared to the Cupra, which stands out thanks to its angular, aggressive design lines. Pricing for the Golf R Estate is similar at £35,855 in the U.K. and €45,350 in Germany.

Read our full review of the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R Variant.

Conclusion

2018 Seat Leon CUPRA R ST Exterior
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This model doesn’t make much sense now that the Cupra brand became independent and will start making its own Leon-based vehicles, but it’s probably why the Cupra R ST comes with a special-edition status. The wagon won’t be around for long as the nameplate’s range-topping model, so you’d better hurry if you want a performance grocery getter that’s not a Volkswagen Golf R. Picking any of the two comes with a compromise. While the Golf R is quicker, it’s has a milder exterior design that doesn’t really set it apart from the standard model. The Cupra R ST, on the other, is a more aggressive proposition design-wise, but it’s notably slower than its German sibling.

  • Leave it
    • * Slower than the Golf R
    • * Won’t be around for long
    • * A bit expensive

References

Seat Leon

2017 Seat Leon High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Seat Leon.

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Read more Seat news.

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Read more Geneva Motor Show news.

Press release

In addition to the CUPRA models presented, a new special edition vehicle has made its public debut, the SEAT Leon CUPRA R ST. This time, the CUPRA R welcomes another member into the sophisticated, distinctive and high-performance family. The SEAT Leon CUPRA R ST is featured with coppered exterior and interior details, in line with the distinctive design of the car. The vehicle will be equipped with a 2.0 TSI 300 PS engine, the 4Drive all-wheel drive system and the DSG gearbox, plus carbon fibre aerodynamic parts, an emotive exhaust sound, copper alloy wheels and performance brakes. The car will be available by the end of the year and will also be displayed at the International Geneva Auto Show.

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Press release
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