17 January 2018

SEAT Leon Cupra 2017 car review

The first I heard of Spanish vehicle manufacturer SEAT (pronounced say-at) was in the mid 90’s while watching screaming little Yellow Ibiza’s skidding around in a NZ WRC (World Rally Championship) event. Now SEAT have hit NZ shores and it looks like they’re here to stay, with the VW owned company opening a very impressive showroom here in Auckland.

Leon 1
SEAT Leon Cupra
Leon 2
SEAT Leon Cupra
Leon 3
SEAT Leon Cupra
Leon 4
SEAT Leon Cupra
Leon 5
SEAT Leon Cupra

In acquiring our test car, SEAT didn’t hesitate seating us in the top of the line offering – the Leon Cupra. If you wanted to liken it to a VW, then it would be very similar to a Golf GTi (small hatch big engine) however, the performance is closer to the Golf R. So the Cupra slots very much in the ‘hot hatch’ genre in boasting of a 0-100km/h time of 5.7 seconds. 

Apart from the big wheels and red brakes, the exterior is almost un-assuming of the animal underneath. Hit the Cupra drive profile button and you can feel the suspension tighten up, see the revs rapidly increase, and hear the exhaust bark as the DSG transmission down-shifts. This car certainly gave me something to smile about!

The interior looks impressive in black, with fine chrome strips everywhere and a touch of ambient lighting nestled into the door cards. Sports bucket seats, flat-bottom steering wheel, and chrome pedals just add to that sports-car theme. The ambient lighting can be customised with eight colours to choose from if you are one of those colours match the mood types. 

Wireless charging; seen in most new cars we test as of late, I haven’t actually heard of many smart phones in NZ that have adopted this feature, maybe we’re a bit slow on the uptake here. I love the idea of not having to leave a charge cable in the car, and the mad panic if the said cable ever gets forgotten. 

Great features are added to the Cupra like preset and customisable drive mode settings which can alter drive, suspension and gear change characteristic to suit the driving style you want. Kessy keyless entry with smartkey and push button start let you lock and unlock any door without reaching for the key. Full Link device connectivity allows smartphone connection for accessing apps like Apple Car Play™, Android Auto™ or Mirror Link™ technology.

True to the chequered flag badges strewn around the place, racing performance is enhanced by the super quick DSG transmission which gives the better of two worlds - automatic comfort combined with manual agility. A Front Differential Lock transfers power to the outer wheel when cornering, improving the CUPRA’s traction, preventing torque steer and ultimately avoiding power loss. The driver can also view vital stats in the Sport HMI screen, three dials offer information on oil temperature, turbo pressure and G-Force.

If you’re in the market for a hot hatch that looks a bit different and leaves the GTi’s behind, you have to take a look at the Leon Cupra.

The Cupra is yet to receive an ANCAP safety rating. 

At a glance




2.0ltr 4-Cylinder Turbo


From $56,900+orc

ANCAP safety rating



221kW, 380Nm torque


6-Speed DSG

Fuel economy


Towing capacity



2WD Front

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload


Safety systems

Lane Assist


Pedestrian Protection

Emergency Assist

Traffic Jam Assist

Attention Assist

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