Seat's super Cupra gets 237bhp

Published: 30 July 2006

The lowdown

Seat has pulled the wraps off its ultimate Leon, the 237bhp Cupra, which hits the UK in January 2007. Just one snag – it looks almost identical to the 200bhp Leon FR. Here's our 60-second guide to playing spot the difference with an FR and a Cupra. Up front, there's only one clue: a black strip around the numberplate. The deep bumper is just like the FR's.

More grunt

Here's the only reason to cough up the likely £3k premium for a Cupra – the engine. Both the FR and Cupra have the same turbocharged 2.0-litre FSI engine found in the Golf GTI. But a revised engine management computer and deeper breathing from a bellowing sports exhaust have boosted output by 37bhp. The extra grunt slashes the 0-62mph sprint from 7.3sec to 6.4, and top speed climbs from 142mph to 153. As rivals go, it's bye bye Golf GTi; the Cupra's benchmark is Vauxhall's brutal, 240bhp Astra VXR. Two other slight visual tweaks feature here. The FR's standard 17-inch wheels are upgraded to 18s on the Cupra, and the spokes are slightly wider set to show off those beefed up, red brake callipers. Those door mirror housings are jet black, not silver.

Beefier rump

Again it's an almost identikit bodykit. But that gaping, oval tailpipe replaces the FR's twin pipe arrangement.

Plusher cockpit

At least Seat has stamped the Cupra identity more noticeably inside, with that big badge at the base of the wheel. The deep bucket seats are an upgrade, too. Some white-on-black dials look fantastic and the spec is more generous, with drilled aluminium pedals and sat nav added. But the FR's gearknob prevails, seemingly inspired by the head of a golf driver. The Cupra should have the grunt to leave the FR for dead. But with Seat holding back on the visual fireworks, only anoraks will know for sure.