Hot hatch-backs are undoubtably a UK obsession which is reflected in SEAT's range of fiery offerings, that make up some of the company's best selling products here in Blighty. The original Mk1 Leon Cupra R has become nothing less than iconic amongst SEAT aficionados', and it is still as popular as ever with our enthusiastic forum users, it was originally devised as a project involving SEAT's in-house motorsport division back in 2002. While the current Mk2 Leon Cupra has had its critics divided both in media and on our forums, it has seen an equal amount of praise for its performance, handing and value for money. One main criticism that the range topper is too similar in styling to its stablemates such as the Leon FR. The styling might be considered conservative compared to other offerings on the market, though many other manufacturers have been dropping styling cues in their newest offerings which the Mk2 Leon pioneered when it made its debut back in 2005. SEAT answered some of the styling criticisms by offering an aggressive looking Cupra K1 in 2008 which added a factory bodykit and was offered alongside the conventional Cupra for a limited period. SEAT took steps to refresh the Mk2 range last year, with a subtle facelift, modifications included a new front bumper and grille a reworked rear hatch door and improved the level of interior specification. The car we came to test at SEAT UK is based on this new face-lifted Leon range and the LCR made its international debut at the Frankfurt motorshow last year. Conscious of the styling criticisms, SEAT UK's product team have worked closely with SEAT's factory based in Martorell near Barcelona to produce a Leon Cupra R with exclusive exterior styling modifications for a demanding UK market. Subtle styling modifications to the UK Cupra R include an F1 style rear diffuser and hatch spoiler finished in the familiar piano black trim that has become associated with the Cupra brand. The Cupra R is also fitted with a twin exit style exhaust, which protrudes from the rear diffuser. It is the first production SEAT to use standard fit 19" wheels available in both white or silver finish, the exterior is completed with bespoke 'R' badging appearing on the front and rear. SEAT Sport twice reigning WTCC champions, have again had a guiding influence in developing the new Leon Cupra R and have been closely involved in tweaking its performance and handling upgrades. Reflected by this fact the Mk2 LCR is the first Leon since its original predecessor to be signed off with the 'Powered by SEAT Sport' engine cover. Utilising the 2.0 litre T FSI turbo-charged petrol power-plant from the current Mk2 Cupra the LCR engine has seen a range of modifications to increase the power. Its worth noting that though SEAT prefer to call it a TSI, it is not based on the latest TSI engine technology as found in the new face-lifted Leon FR. The LCR has a revised engine map (ECU), combined with a high-pressure fuel pump injector, an upgraded exhaust and a uprated intercooler that is likely to have been borrowed from the Audi S3. These modifications have all helped to increase the engine performance to 265PS (261bhp) which produces 350Nm (260ft/lbs) of torque between 2500rpm and 5000rpm. Coupled with the same six-speed gearbox found in the Cupra, SEAT have modified it with a shorter 'throw' reduced by 6mm which aid in faster gear changes. The engineers at SEAT Sport have also tuned the engines air induction noise and exhaust note to provide a more sporty and racy soundtrack. An increase to the maximum turbo pressure to 1.9 bar at max output and 2.2 bar at max torque, versus 1.8 bar for the previous 240PS Leon Cupra. This helps take the LCR to 62mph in a time of 6.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph. Yet despite these impressive performance figures SEAT have managed to keep the combined economy at 34.8 mpg. While many of the Cupra R's rivals tip the CO2 emissions scales at over 220 g/km putting them within the new K band where buyers of newly registered highest polluting models must pay a one-off first-year tax of £550. SEAT have kept the CO2 figures limited to just 190 g/km on the new Cupra R, which means it stays within the J tax band where buyers will pay £425 for the first year. The chassis tweaks include stiffened springs at the front and rear while ride quality has not been overly compromised due to the inclusion of longer rubber suspension bushes. SEAT's recent introduction fitted as standard is XDS, which is claimed to mimic a limited slip differential works alongside the ESP stability control, improving traction by braking the wheels that lose grip. TCS traction control and EBA braking assistance are also included as standard and are familiar from the previous Cupra. Moving inside the LCR we discover the same bucket-style sports seats as found in the Cupra, but inside the UK Cupra R the seats have been trimmed with leather and white quilted stitching, coupled with fantastic looking piano black seat backs adorned with silver 'R' logos. The rear seats and all the door cards have also been trimmed in matching leather to complete the styling, which gives a premium appearance to the interior. The steering wheel and other switchgear and interior plastics have also seen updates, complimenting features that improve the quality and feel on a criticised element of the older Mk2 models. Highly specified comfort and convenience features of the Cupra R include, CD radio + MP3 + eight speakers + MDI, dual zone climate control, automatic lights on, rain sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, cruise control, trip computer, cornering fog lights. The Cupra R is on sale in the UK from April, and is being priced at £24,995 on the road with the first deliveries expected to commence in early May. Now we have got the specifications out of the way, we will move on to what our personal thoughts were about SEAT's newest and quickest ever production Leon. Kullanıcı Görüşleri: 1: Having owned a Mk2 SEAT Leon Cupra for almost three years and a Mk1 LCR prior to that I am likely to have a slightly biased opinion of this car in most respects. My own Mk2 Cupra also runs very high performance more so than the production LCR, 340hp and 350ftlbs of torque achieved by ECU remap, fuel pump, intercooler, exhaust and intake improvements including uprated handling and larger 19" wheels. Similar modifications that in some way reflect those found in SEAT's latest Cupra R. I wouldn't compare like for like because non of my modifications are production approved, but it does provide a keen understanding on my part of what SEAT have put into their new Cupra R. We each took a 20 minute drive of the Cupra R, and got a fairly equal spread of A road and B roads to test out the car. I opted to take first drive heading out from Milton Keynes towards the Buckinghamshire countryside. As I am not familiar to the area we followed Mike in his Ibiza Bocanegra, a fun prospect to have two of SEATs most striking performance products out together at the same time…it certainly got us noticed despite the fact we had a day-glo Kiwi Yellow Leon Cupra R. The first observation I can describe is the improvements to interior trim and switchgear as well as the new steering wheel and new white backlit dash display, the cockpit is similar yet improved and though familiar to my own Cupra the quality improvements made were a defining plus for me. The LCR has further highlights by the inclusion of more bespoke features such as the glossy piano black seat trim with 'R' logos and the door trims also being in piano black. I am not sure how damage avoiding these features would be longterm, I would expect them to mark and scratch quite easily from little feet or even careless adults, however for the enthusiast these are a stunning feature of the car. Heading along the first major A road the, I buried the throttle into the carpet and the LCR responds immediately accelerating smoothly and pulls itself along strongly as you would expect. The performance on the road illustrated all to clearly SEAT's claims of an increase in torque. The performance is highlighted across the mid-range, in part as a result of the new fuel pump injector which allows increased fuel pressure to be delivered where it is needed the most, coupled with an increase in boost pressure. The increased boost of the LCR is sustained well across the range with no noticeable lag in uptake even under hard acceleration, thanks in part to the improved intercooler helping to keep intake temps in check. In relation to my own modified Cupra the addition of an improved fuel pump to prevent fuel starvation was paramount in my car being able to achieve increased power levels as well as an uprated intercooler. A defining feature of the LCR is the awesome sounds it makes, during hard acceleration it makes a fantastic induction noise that would otherwise only be bettered with expensive aftermarket intake kits. The twin exit exhaust has a pleasantly defining burble during downshifting and a fabulous whoosh under acceleration but it doesn't over-compromise the cabin noise with too much resonation. All in all a satisfying feature and one that didn't fail to make any of us smile broadly whilst in the driving seat. Straight line speeds having been proven down straight and smooth dual carriageways I was keen to feel any improvements to the handling. The brakes are the same as those fitted to the present Cupra, they perform extremely well on their huge 345mm discs the cars speed is reigned in very quickly. Though I am critical of the pedal feel which can feel overly sensitive like on the present Cupra, I would describe it as an off or on sensation really which is due in part to the brake servo being overly powerful. I know like many other enthusiasts we would like to have seen the inclusion of Brembo/AP 4 or 6 pot callipers. Even a bespoke calliper such as those used on the latest Audi TTRS would be a great feature especially on a £25k car. The LCR chassis feels tighter and more focused than that of its forerunner. Attacking some of the famed roundabouts of Milton Keynes the car resists understeer while the turn in is improved with a more balanced and sharper recovery from the rear end. SEAT may of made alterations to the increase stability at the front and a thicker rear anti-roll bar but neither were alluded to in the specifications. But the improvements over the Cupra are certainly noticeable. I run coil-overs on my Cupra and while the handling is vastly improved the ride quality is nearly always compromised on the harsh British pot-holed roads. The Cupra R appears to successfully deliver a fair balance on handling but doesn't compromise itself too much on ride quality. Larger 19" inch wheels often make for much a harder ride but despite this the R feels comfortable and neither jittery or bouncy out on the road. The stance of the car is on the high side which may be due in part to the longer rubber bushes that have been fitted to improve the overall ride comfort. However we tested the LCR hard, especially when m0rk was driving!! Mike lead us down possibly the most uneven road in Buckinghamshire a country lane with lots of dips and undulations. I was sat in the back of the R during this with m0rk not really holding back, being as it is, he is familiar to the area having previously been a local resident. I found the resulting, albeit extreme experience to be likened to being jammed in a tin can and thrown down a mountain side, ouch!!! Yet on more suitable road surfaces it was an otherwise comfortable and pleasant experience, even as a 'nervous' passenger sat in the back. All too soon my 20 minutes driving were up and I passed the car over to ****tt for his go, I also look forward to making a more in-depth review later in the year and SEAT are aiming to run a press event at a race-circuit or proving ground. As an enthusiast my feelings towards the new LCR were initially more of surprise than of any disappointment. I was glad to see that SEAT have made some changes to distinguish the R over its stablemates. The styling might not lean far enough towards rivals such as the Focus RS or Megane Renault Sport for some people or even the Cupra K1 for those that crave the in your face aggressive look, but a more contemporary subtle style that I do prefer and beauty should always be in the eye of the beholder. The sporty F1 style rear diffuser is a nice touch and the spoiler is complimentary with piano black highlights tying it all in to the Cupra brand. I would like to have seen the addition of side skirts as a nicer finishing touch and while I was not so keen on the white wheels or the bright kiwi yellow colour. Its a historical and striking nod to the old Mk2 Ibiza Cupra Sport. I look forward to seeing it in its range of other colours such as grey, black, white or blue. Whether the new car really deserves to be titled as an 'R' in the same vane as its Mk1 predecessor is a criticism that will no doubt continue amongst the passionate among our forum. I personally don't feel its a Cupra R in that sense but there is lot more on offer here over the current Mk32 Cupra and the performance is noticeably more dynamic from the drivers point of view. For those of us unable or reluctant to look at aftermarket products to gain higher power then the R is possibly a worthwhile compromise to consider, overall the revisions deliver exciting performance. The handling might not be the best on offer in comparison to some of its rivals and has criticised for being too restricted by its driver aids. However for someone like myself who are not blessed with Schumacher like talents then the electronics offer a level of reassurance yet still allow for an element of fun, I even found the XDS to work well though I'm yet to experience a car with a mechanical limited slip diff to compare. I must be somewhat critical of the cost but like many of us have probably been caught unaware by the state of the current market. £25k is a lot of money for a hot hatch and though its seemingly comparable if not better value than its competition. SEAT have been seen by most as a value brand though I am not so sure that it applies any longer, and to be fair it seems SEAT are looking to distance themselves from that depiction with their newest products. They still want to offer a level of value but in turn supply a premium product and that obviously involves a higher price point. There isn't a great deal to dislike about the LCR its very similar to my own car and I still enjoy it after almost 3 years of ownership. The main dislikes are probably the thoughts of what more it could of been from the perspective of an enthusiast, in respect to a few finishing touches such as the exterior styling and additions such as race brakes etc. Then there is the cost to change for someone such as me who likes to own their car, it can be a very tough pill to swallow to change after 3 years. Those of us who may prefer to lease on schemes such as SEAT's solutions deal then the Cupra R might make more sense as an upgrade. Its not that much of an improvement to make me change my 3 year old Cupra but should someone be in the market for a new Cupra you really shouldn't ignore the Cupra R without first taking one for a test drive in May. Putting the LCR aside I do like where SEAT as a brand are heading with their latest designs, the recent unveiled IBE concept car and the current Ibiza SC have shown the brand to have fresh and exciting feel that I fully approve of as a passionate enthusiast. While the Cupra R is undoubtably a premium product any owner should be justifiably proud of, it only ignites a little of my own emotion. I do not see it as being as interesting a jump in terms of product as the older R branded cars were over the Mk1 Cupra. That aside the Mk2 Leon is still a great product that took the SEAT brand forward in terms of engineering and performance that surpassed the older models. I'm just not convinced the latest R has enough panache or presence to be held in the same regard, but I do hope the brand continues to produce more defining hot hatches and that the best is yet to come! 2: For those of you that don’t know my car history I’ve owned Leons' in various guises. Firstly the MK1 Cupra (pre-face lift) which had not been modified other than different wheels, followed by the MK1 Cupra R which had a remap from Jabbasport and for the last three years I have been driving a MK2 Cupra which has Stage 1 Revo and a Milltek Catback. I’ve included this so you can see on what basis my comparisons with the new LCR will be made. On with my views… I was first of the three of us to arrive (surprising as I’m normally late all the time) and I pulled up behind SEAT HQ to see the Leon Cupra R parked up. From the angle I approached I could only see the front right quarter. It looked just like the pictures I had seen on the web. I was intrigued as we’d been told something special had been done for the UK. I guessed it had to be round the back…. As I got out I met Andy and walked to the back of the car. I was impressed with what they had done. The piano black diffuser with the twin exhaust set the car off nicely as did the boot spoiler also partly in gloss black. Andy was clearly passionate about the car and what they had achieved just for the UK market. He showed me the detail inside as well with the gloss black panels on the seat backs with the R logo and the gloss black strips along the door handles. My Cupra seat backs have stood up well to my five year old’s feet kicking them. I’d be reluctant to let him loose on the new shiny ones on the R but they do look really nice. I really like what SEAT UK have done to make the car that bit more special for the UK – top marks to them. A front splitter would finish the car off nicely – watch this space on that front though. The leather seats did feel slightly more comfortable than my cloth seats with a bit more padding. The flat bottom of the steering wheel is nice, although I prefer the grip areas on my car’s wheel as they are more chunky. The same applies to the gear stick. I personally love the chunky shape of the pre-face lift’s stick (I know some don’t get on with it). As we pulled away I noticed the dash features an indicator telling you what gear you are in as well as recommending when you should change up or down. I need to stress – this is for economy purposes, not how to best rag the nuts off the car! So anyway. On to the drive. The first thing that hits you is the awesome sound the engine and exhaust makes. It’s totally addictive. I found myself flooring it whenever possible just to hear what I can best describe as a screaming banshee sound. We had plenty of roundabouts to play with and I’d floor it at every opportunity. The car felt solid and totally planted on the road, no matter what you did with it. I wasn’t looking to end up in a hedge so didn’t go mad, but it just felt so good and composed. My car still handles well, but the R just felt that bit tighter. How much is down to my shocks having 26K miles on them vs the few on the R I’m not sure. It felt great any way. The car was obviously down on power compared to mine, but it was still a hell of a lot of fun and the car just felt incredibly balanced. You could push it hard and it wouldn’t complain. Mine would wheel spin when put in the same scenario. It was nice to be able to push it without finding yourself slightly hesitant as you apply the power. Did I mention it sounds awesome?! When I first got into my Cupra having owned a LCR previously I was smitten. To me the car was streets ahead. You’ll probably find some early posts from me describing it as “sublime”. After a couple of years I guess you get used to it, but the Cupra as it stands is still an outstanding car. I thought the MK1 LCR was good, but until you have lived with a MK2 Cupra for a few weeks it totally changes your view. I’m not going to go into my views of the MK1 vs MK2 in much detail as it’s kind of irrelevant now and people are emotionally attached to the MK1. Personally I think people’s views have become somewhat jaded and a bit nostalgic over time. SEAT are offering so much more with the Sporty MK2 series of cars, not only on the base spec cars themselves but including all the options now available to buyers (wheel colour and style, xenon lighting, body kits, wide range of car colour, convenience / technology packs etc.) None of this was available with the MK1, and for those that say it was feature complete out the box – it wasn’t really compared to what’s available now. I’d much rather have a well kitted car as std. with the choice of personalising it more myself. Yes it costs more, but at least the choice is there. So the question people may be wanting to know. Would I trade up from my MK2 to the new LCR? Yes at the drop of a hat I would, if I could afford it at the moment! The minute I got home I was looking at finances, loan rates and speaking to the wife nicely, however once the excitement had settled down I had to face the fact that it’s just out of my reach at the moment. The Cupra is paid off and all mine which is nice. The wife’s not working at the moment and taking out a loan would not be viable for us right now. If this was three years ago, and I was choosing between the Cupra and the R I would definitely be stretching to pay the premium for the R. You get a fully loaded car, it’s that bit more raw than the Cupra and you would get that slightly smug exclusivity feeling as you left people in a trail of dust, twin exhaust screaming as you zoom past. Very very impressed. 3: Warm weather, the sun high in the sky, margarita's in the evening & silky smooth mountain roads. This is what I would have written if I was one of the UK press taken out to Barcelona to drive the EU spec Leon Cupra R that SEAT have recently launched. Instead I find myself in a cold, overcast, damp Milton Keynes. However, it's not all as bad as it seems..... In an amazing coup, SEATCupra.net were invited to drive the first right hand drive, UK spec Mk2 LCR. Subtle tweaks have been made over the per-production models driven by the press. The bright Kiwi Green is an easy spot across a mostly deserted car park, normally stuffed full of a variety of VAG cars at Yeomans Drive. It's parked at a slightly jaunty angle with an Ibiza Boconegra nearby. Immediately it has a visual impact that you know doesn't look quite like the pictures you saw in the comics. First things first. Coffee. And a natter with SEAT regarding how they have improved the UK model, for the UK market, it's position against it's competition etc. The plan is that we all get to drive the car, rotating between the Boc, the rear seat & the drivers seat of the LCR. ZBOYD takes the first run, and stalls it on the way out I'm in the Boc watching the LCR yo-yo in the rear view mirror as the impressively quick 1.4 gets the initial jump on Mark when he's caught off guard! After a good 30 min run, we all swap round & I'm in the back of the LCR looking square at the glossy backed bucket seats with a silver 'R' logo on it. The back isn't a bad place to be, I'm not really a big fan of being a back seat passenger at the best of times, let alone in a hot hatch being taken around Buckinghamshire's finest (twisty) roads. But it's OK. You can tell the back end is stiff (more on this later), and that the engine note is vastly improved over the pre facelift Cupra I drove a few years back, and the facelifted Cupra I drove more recently. It sounds awesome when ****tt opens it up properly! Not aftermarket farty, more whooooosh airflow noise. Mercifully quickly it's my turn (I said I wasn't a good passenger) and I was really looking forward to this stint, as it was all around where I used to live. Mike was leading the way in the Boc' so I made sure he knew where I was happy to push on. Initial responses are that it's your typical Mk2 Leon Golf thing. Rides well enough on the smoother roads, and handles pootling along more than adequately. However what you do notice is the extra stiffness of the springs (they say 30% more than Cupra) and I presume revalved dampers too – this has to be the first SEAT I've driven that doesn't feel underdamped. Engine power, where Cupra has it limited to ~220lbft to try & stave off the wheelspin / torque steer negative comments from the old school hacks who think 200bhp is plenty for FWD, the Cupra R has a good 40lbft more (apparently) but it feels plenty more – certainly it's a more rounded car to drive. Cupra demands you give it a good trashing, getting the revs up. Cupra R drives very much more like a rounded 1.8T, just with about 100bhp more. 260Bhp, it is not! Initial guestimates are bounced around at high 270's to 280's. Anyway, what's the point of lots of power, that's only good for straight lines. Where I get my fun is in the corners, not arriving at them at warp speed. Now it's perhaps a little unfair for me to compare a brand new ￡25k top spec hot hatch, with my own daily drive of a 52 plate Clio 172 Cup, but for me the Clio is my benchmark on a quick nimble car, which is regarded as being well up there as one of the best handling FWD cars ever. Tough break for me to review then.... Where my Cup has no frilly extra's, other than good engineering & grip, the Cupra R comes laden with ESP, XDS (LSD sorta thing) and ABS, TCS etc. I like my driving experience to be not held back by what a computer thinks is right. But this isn't my car & I do have SEAT staff in the car & now a rather disheveled ZBOYD joining me taking pictures of the back of my head. So the electronics all stay on. This is probably sensible given the state of the roads having had some epic rainfalls and frost & snow recently, there are some monster puddles & potholes as well as decaying C/D roads that we're blasting down. Now I am not shy behind the wheel, and I am giving it plenty of beans on the straight, scrabbles & goes. No TCS interuption. Good. Even on slight inclines, full throttle & we're still off. Corners are one of those things you gain confidence in, certainly in a 'new' car, it takes a while to get a good feel of what's going on. The revised suspension on the 'R' certainly provides a lot more feedback than I am used to from the VW stable, better than Cupra or FR (which was very stiff!). Lots of front end communication over what's going on, no appreciable understeer, just turn in, and wind off the lock once past the apex & on the gas. Just what you want really. If you go in too hot the XDS kicks in, it feels like it grabs the inside wheel abruptly & lerches the car. I guess that's OK, and common across all the 'hot' & 'warm' SEAT's these days. I'd sooner it just understeered a bit so I could sort it with the throttle. But I guess this is a Super Hot Hatch for anyone to drive capably. Back end communication is good though, no mid corner lift off oversteer needed, but the previously mentioned stiff rear suspension is interesting. If you want a little more front end feel mid corner, just ease right off the throttle and you can feel it tighten to the curve, no ESP controlled broadsiding here. I'm thinking this car will be awesome fun on a track day as well as the fun I'm having blasting through 6” deep puddles and blitzing through Northamptonshire's deserted backlanes. However, the rear suspension has an amusing side effect if you have an SCN Admin trying his best to take snaps of the car when it's going whilst wedging himself between the seat squab & the roof to prevent concussion occurring! I didn't pay much attention to the tech specs of the car, you either want or need iPod connectivity, more airbags, custom pallet colours etc. I can't tell you what I think is needed – that's for you to choose. Now the harder sell. People bemoan that it looks just like a Cupra, so SEAT UK commissioned various parts to make sure it wasn't just a Cupra. And it's really not. The faux diffuser, extra spoiler, piano black detailing is all unique to the Mk2 LCR. Yes, you can buy much of it separately to make your Cupra looks like a Cupra R... but then I can buy a 1.9 Diesel & make it look like a Cupra, so what's the point? The point is this.... It's the quickest SEAT yet, the most powerful SEAT yet & retains it's warranty. And with the current climate heading the way it is with aftermarket tuning, and subsequent refusal of warranty work you can see the point all of a sudden. Certainly compared to the current pricing of Cupra, it works out well. It's a tough sell on the early adopters who got their's for £18k, but you barely have to tick an option box on Cupra to see it fast approaching the LCR's ticket price. Key rivals have got to be the hot Megane's, Focus RS, Mazda MPS to mention a few. VW's Golf R is frankly ridiculously priced, so I'll exclude that. I think it'll mostly appeal to people new to the brand, rather than existing SEAT customers – mostly because they will be 'aware' of the modifications that could be made. One thing is sure, it will be an excellent fun car, and an amazing second hand buy.