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Reader test: Seat Leon Cupra

2009-08-24 07:28

Thanyani Mariba, Johannesburg

I have been a car nut as long as I can remember. But I've never been one to go with the crowd in terms of my purchasing choices, which is why the first car I ever bought was a Ford Focus.

This was an excellent car. Awesome balance between ride and handling and the most fun you could have in its class. The only problem with it was the lack of power from its 77 kW engine unit. Thus I had my eyes set on getting the Ford Focus ST.

The Leon steps in

From the first moment I set eyes on the Leon FR I thought it was an awesome looking machine. Thing is it pushed out 147 kW so I still wanted the Focus ST. And I did not like the interior. So when the Cupra came along (it even looked better than the FR), I decided to take it for a test drive.  

Man, was I blown away by the acceleration, and at the same price as a GTI and a little more than the Focus it had xenon head lights, tyre pressure monitors and a 177 kW motor (same power-to-weight ratio as an S3). I decided I had to get one. I still had an issue with the centre console though.

Living with the Beast

Owning a Cupra sure is one way of getting yourself well acquainted with the police.

This car is seriously quick. At reef it is even quicker than the Audi S4 (old one) and S5. It even makes mince meat of the Focus ST.

The problem though is getting the launch right as having all that power in the front wheels can prove quite tricky. If you get it wrong even a Polo GTI will have you for breakfast.

One area where the car is almost untouchable is in the in-gear acceleration. It was even tested to be faster than the M3 and M5 at 60-160 in one of the local mags.

Everything about the car urges you to drive fast. I have had to discipline myself into driving like a civilised human being.  

The downside

The car really handles well especially around tight corners, the available grip is unbelievable.  

But it is not as engaging as the Focus was. It is easier to drive fast around the bends, but it can often feel remote.

The lack of body roll is also quite amazing. The trade-off you have to live with is a hard ride. This is not helped by the low profile tyres the vehicle uses. Adjustable ride comfort (as in the new GTI) would be a welcomed addition to the car.

Since Seat pulled out of South Africa, it has affected the second hand price of the vehicles. VW should have brought the brand in house. On the plus side, it means the Cupras are rare on our roads. It is a shame though that so many people are losing out on the awesome experience!

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