Seat Cupra TFSI
nice, clean, flowing lines of the Seat
handles like it's on rails (especially with the ESP on)
at speed at Midvaal. Check that aerodynamic, slice-through-the-air, wedge shape
It has teardrop headlights with integrated indicators and a large, inverted-trapezoid grille. The front wheel arch is the starting point of the design hallmark of the Seat (pronounced Siat), a dynamic line that sweeps over the wheel arches and slopes across the front and rear doors to finish at the rear wheels.
The Cupra’s coupé appearance is accentuated by its sloped windscreen and downwards-sloping roofline. The rear door handles are concealed in the door frames to further the design.
The rear is dominated by the large hatch with elongated rear light clusters, capped by a spoiler and third brake light. The big "S" symbol in the middle of the hatch is also the boot release, a Seat signature feature.
Soft-touch fascia has a neatly shrouded instrument cluster housing three oval, black dials with white backlighting and red needles.
The centre console is tilted slightly towards the driver and houses the audio unit and air-conditioning. It appears to be suspended, allowing for an oddments tray, two cup holders, plus hazard warning button.
Steering column is adjustable for height and reach, while controls for both audio and phone are within the racy three-spoke 'Cupra' steering wheel.
The rear seats can accommodate three (slim) people, which splits and folds asymmetrically. With both side folded boot space is increased from 341 to 1166 litres.
The Macpherson strut independent front suspension is mounted on a new aluminium sub-chassis with a 23.6mm diameter anti-roll bar, made more effective by reducing the distance from anchoring point to wheel centre. Rear suspension is by an independent four-arm multilink axle with an anti-roll bar, enabling longitudinal dynamics (comfort) to be handled separately from lateral dynamics (agility).
The electrical power-steering system varies its weight to match speed and steering wheel angle and forms part of the cars Electronic Stability Programme. When the car detects oversteer it instructs the system's electric motor to "weight" the steering wheel's movement in the opposite direction. The driver senses this as a recommendation and is prompted to turn the wheel in that direction to re-stabilise the car. The system doesn't steer the car, however - that's up to the driver. The ESP also has an electronic differential lock and emergency brake assistance.
The two-litre turbo FSI engine features a continuously variable intake manifold, internal exhaust-gas recirculation and its turbocharger in unit with the exhaust manifold.
Seat quotes 147kW and 280Nm between 1800 and 5000rpm and says the car can accelerate from 80 - 120kph in top gear in 9.6 seconds. It will sprint from 0-100kph in 7.2sec, cover a standing kilometre in 28.4 secs and reach 230kph – all on 8.1 litres per 100km. The Cupra also comes with a six-speed manual gearbox.
The Cupra has many convenient features, like built-in Bluetooth connectivity that requires no physical connection between the vehicle and cellphone. The driver can link his phone to the car's network and use it "hands-free" via the steering wheel's buttons and multifunction control lever.
A headlight sensor turns the lights on or off depending on ambient light and a tiny rain sensor in the tinted windscreen controls the wipers.
The Cuprs also has an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, cruise control and an on-board data computer.
A tyre-pressure monitor detects pressure loss and warns the driver via a light on the dashboard; once tyre pressure is corrected, a button in the transmission tunnel must be pressed to reset the system.
The Leon Cupra is equipped with eight airbags. Six are standard: driver and front passenger, two front side, plus two curtain airbags, supplemented by optional rear side bags.
The front end has been designed to minimise injuries caused to pedestrians in a collision; the bonnet and its hinges absorb energy in a controlled sequence without losing strength.
Pressure sensors in the front doors shorten airbag response time in the event of side collisions, combining with acceleration sensors in the rear wheel arches to detect a side impact within seven milliseconds.
In a collision, the control unit triggers the seat belts and crash bags as appropriate, releases the car's central locking, shuts off the fuel pump and turns on the hazard and courtesy lights (and then phone's 911 - No... that's about the only thing it doesn't do, is call 911).
the powerful mill of the Seat Leon Cupra
clear, easy to read dash tells it all
the yellow bomber and I on the back straight at Midvaal Raceway
Photos by Dylan Slater
Thanks to Athol Van Heerden, Meena Motiram and all at Seat SA for the exciting, white-knuckle drive
and to Midvaal Raceway for allowing us to use their facilities.
The Seat Leon Cupra was so much fun to drive.