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First drive: SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by SEAT.

First drive: SEAT Leon ST Cupra
SEAT adds space to its range-topping Leon Cupra with the Leon ST Cupra, a family car for nutters.

 



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SEAT Leon ST Cupra

4 4 4 4 4

Mothercare rather than McDonald's car parks for this most grown-up of SEAT Leon Cupras, the ST Cupra 280 proving that adding some space and practicality to your life doesn't mean you have to give up on the fun.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280
Price: £28,505
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: estate
CO2 emissions: 157g/km (Band J, £265 per year)
Combined economy: 42.2mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 6.1 seconds
Power: 280hp at 5,600- to 6,500rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1,700- to 5,600rpm

What's this?

A SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280, so it's 27cm longer than the hatchback, adding 55 per cent more boot capacity and some estate car respectability to SEAT's hard-charging brand in the process. A fast estate then, this Leon Cupra is a most enjoyable way to circumvent the practicality-over-performance conundrum. Like its hatchback relations there's a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet, its 280hp giving it the ability to reach 62mph in just 6.1 seconds from rest. If you're really in a hurry, then the DSG automatic will get you there 0.1 seconds quicker, but its second-guessing and over-ruling gets tiresome so we'd stick with the manual gearbox.

How does it drive?

Much like its hatchback relatives, which is a good thing. You might just notice the extra weight the ST adds, but Jordi Gene, SEAT racing driver and the man responsible for setting up the Cupra, reckons at the Nürburgring it'll be faster on the straights due to its better aerodynamics. He should know, having set a lap time of under eight minutes there in the hatchback. A record that's irrelevant, yes (and short-lived, as Renault bettered it shortly after), but the ST can bask in some of that Green Hell hot-lapping fury, even if its kind of green hell is more likely to be hedge trimmings in the boot and a weekend trip to the tip.

That 2.0-litre engine delivers its performance in a most dignified manner, the spread of power impressive, the eagerness to rev enjoyable. There's nothing spikey in the delivery either - unlike those clippings in the boot. Grip is mighty in standard guise. However, if you are chasing lap times (and really, who will be?) SEAT offers a Sub8 package that adds 19-inch wheels with larger Brembo brakes, body-coloured side skirts and the choice to have your wheels, grille surround and badges painted in black or orange - the latter we'd avoid. To that you can add more track-focused Michelin Pilot Sport Cup II tyres, but again, we're not sure you'll need, or want them.

Inside, it's all pleasingly sporting. The cut-off steering wheel with its perforated leather covering looks good, but it's a shame that it offers nothing in the way of feel. Turn it and the ST Cupra responds accordingly, the grip impressive, the response accurate, but it's a leap of faith rather than an informed decision. That is at least until you've learned its limits. You quickly find that they're high, higher than you'll ever need on the road, making the Cupra quite indecently quick cross country. The suspension is firm to the benefit of control, but the ride is not overly compromised as a result. It's all much like the hatch then, only a bit more spacious. That's all a good thing indeed, allowing you to grow up, but still be a little bit silly.

Verdict

It seems there's some demand out there for compact fast estates, as Ford and Volkswagen also offer, or are set to offer, brisk load-luggers based on their Focus and Golf respectively. For growing, or new families in a hurry, or just those wanting a performance car that's a little bit more practical and discrete, the ST Cupra 280 does a very fine job indeed.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

5 5 5 5 5 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Kyle Fortune - 17 Feb 2015









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2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by Paddy McGrath.2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by Paddy McGrath.2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by Paddy McGrath.2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by Paddy McGrath.2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by Paddy McGrath.

2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by Paddy McGrath.2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by Paddy McGrath.2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by Paddy McGrath.2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by Paddy McGrath.2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by Paddy McGrath.



2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra. Image by SEAT.
 






 

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