Seat Leon Cupra: Singapore’s biggest bang-for-buck car?

seat leon cupra 290 review singapore price

290 horsepower for $165,500 with COE? Talk about Spanish fly!

SINGAPORE — The Seat Leon Cupra 290 could be the best thing to happen to car enthusiasts here in a long time: it offers 290 horsepower for $165,500. And yes, that includes the COE.

The Leon Cupra is based on the iconic Volkswagen Golf GTI, but undercuts it on price while offering more power. Higher turbo boost pressure, modified cylinder heads and various under-bonnet tinkering have given it a whopping 70 horsepower more than its platform sibling.

It has enough torque to peel the tarmac off the road, too: 350Nm, in a remarkably broad spread of revs from 1,700 to 5,800rpm.

seat leon cupra review singapore priceAccordingly, the engine delivers strong acceleration, with 100km/h flashing up from standstill in just 5.7 seconds (the Golf GTI takes 6.5).

The one thing the Leon Cupra doesn’t have is all-wheel drive, which would have made it quicker. VW’s Golf R, for example, is less powerful with 256 horspower, but its 4Matic system gives it the traction for speedier getaways, so it can hit 100km/h in 5 seconds flat.

But that’s not to say the Leon Cupra doesn’t have any tricky chassis tech. It has DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control), which is basically an active suspension system that lets you vary the dampers’ firmness so you can have comfort one moment and tautness the next.

seat leon cupra 290 review singapore

There’s also a limited-slip differential that can channel all of the engine’s power to a single front wheel, under extreme circumstances — with the steering wheel turned right, for instance, power is sent to the left wheel. That improves cornering traction, quells understeer and should make for much less wheelspin when the driver exits a bend enthusiastically.

The Leon Cupra also has a variable ratio steering rack, with slower responses around the straight-ahead so the car doesn’t feel darty, and progressively sharper responses as the wheel is turned, to give the car greater agility; nimblesness without twitchiness, in other words.

The electronics are managed with a driving mode selector that Seat calls Cupra Drive Profile. It offers Comfort, Sport and Cupra settings, with the latter offering particularly hardcore settings in terms of throttle response, shift times from the six-speed DSG transmision, suspension firmness, steering weight and the limited slip diff.

seat leon cupra review singapore

The cabin gets spoty touches like a flat-bottomed steering wheel and polished pedals, with adaptive LED cabin lighting that changes from white to fiery red when the Cupra drive mode is selected.

The Leon Cupra gets its launch tomorrow when new Seat importer Vertex Euro Motors officially opens its doors, and should serve as a vital halo model for the brand while it seeks to re-establish itself in Singapore. While Seat’s product range is broad enough to give the brand a fairly wide appeal, when it comes to car enthusiasts, speed is of the essence.

seat leon cupra singapore price


What else is Seat selling in Singapore? A lot, lei! Click here to see

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Want seven seats in your, er, Seat? Check out the Alhambra, then



about the author

Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.