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Cupra is real king of Leon.

Byline: Bruce Booth

IT was back in the summer of 2010 when Spanish manufacturer SEAT showed a true Jekyll and Hyde personality.

First it launched the most economical Leon then built in the form of the Ecomotive, a car which pared emissions to below that magical 100g/km figure, while returning nearly 75mpg.

But then, in a complete reversal to the ethos of what that ultra-green model stood for, came the awesome Leon Cupra R, a highly-tuned, mindblowing version pumping out no less than 261bhp from its two-litre turbocharged power plant, making it then the most powerful SEAT to be built.

Yet, to give the car the air of exclusivity it deserved, SEAT designers had their work cut out. First there was the massive 19-inch wheels on which the Leon stood. Available in silver alloy or white paint finish, the five twin-spoke Potenza design alloys make an immediate impact.

Then there was the twin, centrally-mounted exhaust pipes encased within an ebony black rear diffuser. While above, a similar coloured rear spoiler housed the high-level brake light.

On the inside, the sports seats were also been given some extra-special treatment.

The silver stitching and Cupra lettering contrasted with the black leather interior, while the front seat backs were finished in high-gloss ebony black complemented with R badging.

However, even with those changes, it was the power from within that set the Cupra R apart.

The standard 16-valve petrol engine featured a new highpressure fuel pump injector for even greater performance, while revisions to the electronic engine management system plus increased maximum turbo pressure added to the unit's power output which pulled 258lb/ft of torque at 2,500 revs.

To help control this power, a host of driver aids were fitted. Traction control and emergency brake assist came as standard, as did ABS and SEAT's clever XDA electronic limited slip differential system.

And believe me, it doesn't take long to be impressed by the amount of power just waiting for some welly from the right foot.

The powerful engine truly delivered while the engine note under acceleration was also a pure joy.

Grip from the huge tyres allowed for ultra-fast, yet safe cornering, while acceleration and performance could just about match those of far more expensive supercars.

With its 265bhp engine under the bonnet, the benchmark 0-62mph dash took just 6.2 seconds while the Cupra R's top speed came in at 155mph.

However, while these figures were somewhat mindblowing, other statistics were more in tune with today's green awareness.

With combined economy of 34.9mpg and CO2 emissions cut to just 190g/km, the Cupra R just happended to be one of the least polluting of the then ultra-hot hatches.

Expect to pay from PS8,525 to PS11,695 for a 2010 10-plate example, or between PS9,580 and PS12,880 for a 2011 model sporting a 60-plate.

Move on to 2012 and a 62-plate and prices rise from around the PS12,350 mark to a top book price of PS15,920.

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Title Annotation:Features; Review
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jan 9, 2015
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