Buying One Of The Ugliest Hot Hatches Ever Made...
No, I wasn't expecting this either
SEAT in recent years has churned out some pretty sharp looking cars, just look at the majority of the Spanish brand's range. Ibiza, Leon, Arona, Ateca, Tarraco, Mii - OK, I'm pushing my luck with the last one. My point is, the design team clearly know a thing or two about making a striking a car, and the same could be said for the Mk2 Leon, albeit for the wrong reasons.
One of the car's better angles if you ask me. Photo Credit: Dreams2Drive
A mother may struggle with the looks
The Mk2 SEAT Leon was designed by a chap called Walter De Silva, a man whose CV is respectable to say the least. Not only has he designed a few Alfas - brownie points there - but he is also responsible for the design on the Mk3 VW Scirocco, Mk1 Audi TT, and Mk1 Audi R8, very pretty cars in my opinion. He's also responsible for the Mk2 Leon, so I can only assume he was having an off-day, or his heart was no longer in car design - he now spends his time designing shoes. No, really.
That, Mr De Silva, is sexy.
This, is not. Photo Credit: Dreams2Drive
The Mk2 Leon was designed around the same time as the Mk5 VW Golf, a car in which its shares his platform, and where the Golf is so classless you can park it outside McDonald's or a hotel in Monte Carlo and it won't look out of the place, the Leon will probably be parked around the corner. In a large shadow.
Wow, you really don't like this car, you - why did you buy it?!
To be fair, I'm somewhat facetious here, because it doesn't look THAT bad...when you're squinting. OK, OK, OK, I'll stop it, as I'm sure I'm made my point. No, honestly, it's not too bad from the right angles and once you get used to the divisive styling. Well I say divisive, the majority of my friends and family actually like the way it looks - so do their guide dogs. Sorry. I couldn't resist myself on that one.
Photo credit: Dreams2Drive
Time to be serious. I'll be honest, the Mk2 Leon Cupra was never really on my serious shortlist of cars, and even when I had this very car saved in my Auto Trader shortlist my wife turned her nose up and called it boring - I can see why. However, for reasons that are too long to explain in detail in this post, the more and more I thought this car, the more it made sense.
What were my choices?
I wanted a hot hatch, end of, although I did entertain a fast estate. The Mk5 Golf GTI was ruled out as that seemed like a safe and obvious choice (unless it was an Edition 30, which there weren't many in my budget), the Mk1 Leon Cupra R (A car I've wanted for ages) was ruled out due its age, and the Mk2 Focus ST (the one my heart wanted) was ruled out as I struggled to find a tidy one in budget, and they can be problematic.
More about the Mk2 Leon Cupra
As I touched upon earlier, the Mk2 SEAT Leon Cupra - model code 1P for the anoraks - was built on the same platform as the Golf, and you'd be safe in assuming it would offer less power than the GTI, but no. Yes, it's powered by the same 2.0 litre TFSI four cylinder petrol engine, but thanks to a different turbocharger - K04 compared to the Golf's smaller K03 - it offers 240hp, 40 more than the German alternative.
Along with that, it offers up 300Nm of torque which is fed to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox - there was no DSG option for the UK. 0-62 is dealt with in 6.4 seconds, which is respectable even by today's standards, and the top speed is an equally respectable 153mph. It's a VAG product, so it's fair to say it's a solid and dependable product, although the interior leaves a bit to be desired, not that I'm bothered about that.
More power than a Golf, but the interior isn't as nice.
Standard features include 18" alloys, sports styling, sports seats, dual-zone climate control, tinted rear windows, bi-xenon headlights, cruise control, aux connectivity, and a CD player - oh so retro! Not too bad when you consider this car is 13 years old now.
The sport seats are definitely a highlight of the cabin.
What are my plans for it?
Well, I've actually had the car for a few months but I've not hung about on the modding front. The first I did was to replace the standard springs with Eibach Sportline Lowering Springs, and I recently had a stage 1 remap carried out by AmD Tuning plus I got them to add a Cobra non-res exhaust for good measure. I will speak more about the mods in another article. The car's even wearing new plates, 'LE07 CUP' as I'm one of those sad people that names their cars, and as you can probably guessed, Ive gone for Leo. Leo the Leon, it's got a nice ring to it, I'm sure you'll agree.
Not a great picture, but you get the point.