||5-door wagon, production car
|Miles Per Gallon:
||210 bhp @ 5800 rpm
||199 lb-ft @ 2100 rpm
||f: --.- / r: --.- in
||--.- sec @ --- mph
|Braking, 60-0 mph:
|Nürburgring Lap Time:
SEAT's dynamic new León Cupra R rewrote the "hot" hatchback rules, setting new standards not only for SEAT itself but also for the market as a whole. The new model is not just the fastest and most powerful León of all, but also incorporates an entirely new sporting chassis concept for ultimate driving pleasure. Among many highlights, the new León Cupra R is the most powerful SEAT model ever built, and underlines the brand's position as a leading manufacturer of sports models. It also is the first vehicle produced by SEAT Sport, the division responsible for the most exclusive SEAT products. The Cupra R has 210 hp, a six-speed manual gearbox and an advanced front-wheel drive chassis. It represents an entirely new engine and transmission combination both for SEAT and, indeed, the entire Volkswagen Group. It is the first high performance vehicle to adopt SEAT's Agile Chassis Concept and has been jointly developed by SEAT's Martorell Technical Centre and SEAT Sport. It is manufactured by SEAT Sport in an select, although not limited series.
Juxtapose the letter "R" and the word "Cupra" and you have the ultimate sporting expression within the SEAT range. With 180 hp on offer, the Ibiza Cupra R became the target to beat in the compact car class. Now the spotlight turns on the SEAT León Cupra R, which is the most powerful front-wheel drive vehicle in its market segment.
To achieve this feat, SEAT's Martorell Technical Centre enjoyed a special collaboration with experts in the development of high performance vehicles: engineers from SEAT Sport. They have drawn on their experience in motorsport competition to create the quintessence of the León concept, one of the most charismatic models currently produced in Spain.
Some might suggest that the León Cupra R is merely an extreme evolution of the 180 hp 1.8-litre León Turbo, but that would be too simplistic. Although the mechanical basis of the two models is similar, the highly efficient four cylinder, 20 valve, 1781 cc engine has been fine tuned to deliver greatly enhanced power and torque figures of 210 hp and 199 lb-ft respectively.
Such increases have, naturally, led to new dynamic requirements: more power leads to higher potential speeds and, therefore, to greater demands on the vehicle. It requires a chassis that rises to the occasion, capable of transmitting the horsepower to the Tarmac, of providing greater dynamic stability under all driving conditions and, of course, of promising greater braking capacity. SEAT's Agile Chassis Concept offers all this and more. It is a truly revolutionary interpretation of what constitutes a sports chassis.
The adoption of the Agile Chassis has meant new coil spring and damper ratings, revised front suspension geometry, completely redesigned suspension mounts and more direct and responsive steering.
In addition, the León Cupra R features the latest generation ESP stability control as standard as well as emergency braking assistance. In fact, the vehicle has one of the most powerful braking systems in its segment, with four large ventilated discs offering greater resistance to fading. Spectacular, large diameter Brembo discs are available as an option, with red four-pot callipers highly visible through larger, more elegant wheel rims. ABS anti-lock brakes, naturally, are also standard.
That said, the new León Cupra R needs no flashy displays to project a powerful image. Its purposeful, sporty character is made abundantly clear by the compact look, lowered suspension, outsized intake vents, large diameter wheels and a few other exterior details.
Like a true sprinter, its interior is focused on the job in hand. Devoid of superfluous elements that might distract the drive from his task, the León Cupra R passenger compartment - dashboard, carpeting and upholstery - is completely decked out in black. This stylish elegance is highlighted by the white background of the instrument dials, steel coloured pedals and footrests and other touches of colour such as the gear shift pattern which is embossed in red on the black leather gear lever knob. The letter "R", stitched in red on the backrests of the seats, is another reminder of the special nature of the ultimate León.
The apparently austere interior, however, is not reflected in the comfort or safety aspects of the car. The León Cupra R features, as standard, ABS anti-lock brakes, TCS traction control, ESP stability control, climate control and a powerful stereo sound system. There are also seat-belt pretensioners as well as twin front and side airbags on both the standard seats and the optional Recaro ones - the latter combining with a 2+1 back seat arrangement.
But the proof of the pudding is in the driving, and the promise of the León Cupra R's performance lives up to expectations. Being some 163 kg lighter and more powerful even than the V6-powered León 4 Cupra (the weight/output ratio is 6.6 kg/hp), SEAT Sport's finely honed athlete peaks at 147 mph, sprints from 0 to 60 mph in only 7.1 seconds and covers a standing kilometre in 27.4 seconds. There's even the specially tuned exhaust note of a purebred sports car: call it the roar of the León.
Unveiled as a prototype at the 2001 Barcelona Motor Show, the León Cupra R has now come of age to become the sporting flagship of the SEAT range and the new point of reference in its segment for performance and driving pleasure.
Beneath the skin of the new SEAT León Cupra R beats the heart of an all-round athlete, capable of tackling short sprints and long distance enduros equally well: its purposeful looks are not there for show. From the generous air vents to the aerodynamic shape of the side skirts and spoilers, from the size of its wheels to the ground hugging stance, everything has a practical, functional and distinctive reason for being.
The nose features a broader radiator grille while the prominent and newly designed bumper includes a small spoiler at the bottom. This houses larger vents to improve air flow to the twin intercoolers (located at the front) and for cooling the front brakes and which are covered by a honeycomb mesh. The upper vents, between the headlamps, are laminated. The central grille, housing the SEAT symbol, has a chrome surround.
A dynamically low profile is enhanced by the side skirts finished, like the coloured side and roof mouldings, in body colour and by the unusually large 17 inch alloy rims which feature exposed fixing bolts and five elegantly thin spokes. The León Cupra R can also be specified with an optional 18 inch alloy rim package, that includes larger diameter brakes with red painted, four-pot Brembo callipers.
A performance car should not forget its rear end styling (the view other drivers usually see), and here the León Cupra R continues its minimalist approach. Its clean lines are set off by a redesigned bumper, free of mouldings or end caps, and the familiar spoiler at the trailing edge of the roof.
To ensure other drivers know by what they have just been overtaken, the "LEÓN" model name sits in the centre of the rear hatch beneath the now familiar "S" badge that doubles as a boot handle. The exact model designation is shown by the Cupra logo and a small red "R" to the right of the hatch: this badge is repeated on both front wings beneath the indicator repeater lights. A further important detail at the rear is the new chromed, oval tailpipe that carries the unmistakably rorty exhaust note of the SEAT Sound System.
The passenger compartment adopts the philosophy of a competition car cockpit. An all-black theme lack dominates: everything from the sill covers right through to the dashboard, carpeting, headlining, parcel shelf, sun visors, door panels, mouldings and grab handles is black. Even the centre console, which houses switches for the climate control and the eight speaker CD/tuner sound system, is black. So, too, is the upholstery… though a sharp contrast comes from the red piping on the seats and the red "R" emblem embroidered onto the backrests.
The León Cupra R comes equipped with comfortably contoured sports seats as standard while the rear bench seats three passengers each with a head restraint. An exclusive option couples figure hugging Recaro competition-style seats in the front with two individually moulded seats (with two head restraints) in the rear. A third passenger can be carried thanks to its "2+1" configuration.
A touch of leather (black, naturally), can be found on the three-spoke sports steering wheel, on the gear lever knob and on the hand brake lever. A contrast is once again made by red stitching on the wheel and while the shift pattern is embossed in red on the gear lever knob.
Behind the wheel, which is adjustable for height and reach, can be found four prominent white instrument dials; the two large ones house the speedometer and tachometer, while the two small ones show water temperature and fuel level. And at the driver's feet are sporty steel coloured pedals and a convenient rest for the clutch foot.
There's more to a performance car than out and out speed. Rather, it's a sophisticated blend of power and handling, safety and precision, agility and control.
Jointly developed by the Technical Centre and SEAT Sport, SEAT's new Agile Chassis develops this theory with a number of innovative techniques. The sports suspension on the new SEAT León Cupra R comprises a combination of relatively soft springs with stiffer damping, sturdier suspension mounts, newly designed "silent block" bushes, tyres with greater resistance to roll oversteer and a "quick" steering rack providing faster responses, greater feel and driver feedback.
The León Cupra R's remarkable road holding is partly down its new front suspension geometry, which now sees the components housed in an separate sub-frame "silent block" bushes. A thinner (18 mm) front anti-roll bar is anchored directly onto the spring/shock absorber assembly, to minimise interference caused by vertical movement of the suspension.
The rear suspension, which incorporates a small degree of passive rear wheel steering, has also been revised. As well as different spring and damper rates, the relatively simple addition of "silent block" mounting bushes has been developed by the Technical Centre to enhance the rear steering effect thanks to the greater torsional rigidity of the chassis.
The León Cupra R is equipped with generously sized 312 x 25 mm front and 256 x 22 mm rear ventilated disc brakes as standard. An even more potent, and highly visible, Brembo braking system with exceptional resistance to fade is available as an option. It features four-pot callipers (36/40 mm) painted red, with bigger ventilated discs (323 x 28 mm). The package also includes 7.5J x 18 inch alloy rims and large diameter 225/40 R18 tyres (instead of the standard 225/45 R17 tyres on 7.5J x 17inch rims).
The engine in the León Cupra R has been carefully re-engineered for maximum performance. Developing 210 hp at 5800 rpm, SEAT Sport's latest star performer is the new pacesetter for front-wheel drive cars in its segment.
Figures are one thing: it's how that engine performance is delivered that really counts. This highly efficient, turbocharged four cylinder 1781 cc engine combines exceptional outright power - it has a specific output of almost 118 hp per litre - with a virtually flat torque "curve" that peaks right through the rev range (199 lb-ft from 2100 to 5000 rpm).
High accurate electronically controlled multi-point fuel injection and independent coil ignition are contributing factors, as is the unit's enhanced airflow system made possible by both the advanced 20 valve head - five valves per cylinder -and new intake and exhaust manifolds.
But central to the engine's outstanding performance are the twin intercoolers, which increase air intake the turbocharger. Increasing the number of oxygen molecules to the mixture means more efficient fuel combustion.
This potent performance is fed to the front wheels via a twin plate clutch and close ratio six-speed gearbox. And so no-one is left in doubt as to the vehicle's performance potential, the engine's throaty roar has been fine tuned by the SEAT Sound System installed at the tip of the exhaust pipe. Music to the ears.