Volkswagen Golf R vs SEAT Leon Cupra on track

Volkswagen Golf R vs SEAT Leon Cupra on track

This car is every bit as enjoyable to drive
as a GTI… Now obviously this car is famous for recently
setting the fastest ever front-wheel drive lap around the Nurburgring… With snazzy looks, 4wd and just shy of 300bhp,
the new Golf R is the pinnacle of the massive Golf range. But is it the best hot hatch in
the VW Group stable? To find out, we’ve brought along the new SEAT
Leon Cupra 280, and it’s just taken the fastest ever lap time around the Nurburgring for a
FWD car. So which of this pair is going to be fastest
around our test track, and which one is going to be the most fun? Well, let’s find out. The most powerful production Golf ever made,
the new Golf R costs £31,970 if you choose the DSG gearbox and five-door bodyshell. With
296bhp and 380Nm of torque from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, it has 4wd to put all
the power on the road. Lighter and cheaper than the Golf, the SEAT
Leon Cupra is only FWD, but it has similar underpinnings and the same engine. It develops
276bhp and 350Nm of torque. Like our Golf, this car is fitted with the DSG dual-clutch
gearbox. Ok, so let’s see how we get on with the Golf
R. Now, the Golf Rs have always been the most powerful Golfs but they’ve never always necessarily
been the most enjoyable to drive because a lot of the time the Rs have had more power
but the GTIs have remained the more enjoyable of the two. Let’s see how we get on with this
one, whether this car is every bit as enjoyable to drive as a GTI. The first thing you notice with a bit of a
slide there with cold tyres is that unlike the previous Golf Rs you can fully disable
the stability control, which on the track obviously frees the car up a little bit and
gives you the freedom to enjoy it more. We’ve got a car with a DSG gearbox and with
a five-door body shape that means the price is just under £32,000 – it’s not a cheap
car. But with just shy of 300bhp on the road it’s a really composed, fast relaxing performance
car. But let’s find out what it’s like on the track.
Now the first impressions are that it does feel very much like a front-wheel drive car.
It feels very planted like the current GTI. You don’t get the sense of the 4wd becoming
an agile, adjustable 4wd car like a Misubishi Evo – it still feels much like a FWD car and
you can feel that when you start to get a bit of understeer you can feel the power transferring
to the rear and improving your traction. But overall it’s not groundbreaking. The gearbox is quite fast, getting a little
bit of heat into the brakes. Coming round now to start a flying lap. Second gear out
to the last corner, accelerating up to the line. There the traction’s really good as
you accelerate up to the line and that does help matters. But it does feel through these tighter corners
here, the way you’re changing direction one side to the other, it does feel a bit lazy
at turn-in and there is understeer as you’re coming out of these longer corners. So again
it does feel like a FWD car. Now I’m just over 100mph, brake hard into
the chicken and and another thing you do find in a Golf R is that it’s not a perfectly suited
track car, because it does get quite a lot of brake fade in the big braking zones so
the pedal goes a little bit soft. Here we’re down to 3rd gear, really positive
on the turn-in, again it’s only in the slower corners that it feels a little bit lazy. Here, 3rd gear, balancing the throttle. You
can feel the front tyres cheruping a little bit like a FWD car but as it starts to understeer
you feel a little bit of power transferring to the rear. Change of direction, feels very
much like a GTI, down through the gears and up to the last corner. Good traction on the
exit there. One more tight corner to go, playing to the Golf R’s advantage with the traction
and accelerating out of the corner and across the line. Stable and powerful, the Golf R performed
well around our circuit, recording a lap time of 1.14.8 seconds. Let’s see how the lighter
FWD SEAT gets on. So how does the Cupra compare? If you want
the ultimate in the latest generation of VW Group hot hatches, do you really need to go
to a Golf R? Can you get the best in the SEAT, which is, in this spec with the DSG, nearly
£4,000 cheaper than the Golf R. Same engine, same underpinnings, but it’s got 20bhp less
and 30NM less torque but it does weigh 74kg less than the Golf. Obviously only FWD but you do get a really
clever diff.So let’s find out how they compare. Certainly the first thing you notice is just
how much more lively the SEAT is. It feels much stiffer at the front end and it reacts
much quicker and turns in sharper. It changes direction better than the Golf, it just makes
the Golf feel a bit lazy if I’m honest. In terms of straight-line performance the
Golf feels a bit quicker but there’s a not a lot in it and the DSG gearbox works pretty
much identically in both. Now obviously this car is famous for recently
setting the fastest ever front-wheel drive lap around the Nurburgring but it’s worth
pointing out that car had an optional performance pack that gives you brembo brakes, a pilot
sport semi-slick tyre and unique lighter wheels. You can’t get that performance pack in the
UK at the moment so this isn’t exactly the same spec as the car that did that amazing
lap around the Nurburgring. But you can feel that the basics are there
and the chassis is capable of doing that. It’s pretty good through that high-speed change
of direction there. Quite a lot of tyre scrum but that diff’s pretty clever. So let’s see if it’s maybe quicker than the
Golf around our test track.Coming up to the last corner, start to tidy it up for the start
of a flying lap. Accelerating up towards the line and starting
the flying lap. Down to 3rd gear into here, trailbraking in, lot of grip, you can start
to loosen the rear a bit with some trailbraking, it’s much better than the Golf through that
change of direction, bit of understeer on the exit, scrubbing a bit but again scrubbing
less than the Golf and you can feel that diff sending power from side to side. Speed up to the chicken here, pretty similar
to the Golf. Now, the upgraded brakes – you can tell why the car needed those for the
Nurburgring because without them there’s quite a lot of squirm on the brake because the brakes
get quite hot, soft pedal and the ABS seems to struggle to cope with it. So the car seems
to squirm side to side as you get different brake forces applied to each side of the car. The turn-in’s excellent, into these two fast
left-handers.Same gearing as the GTI, it really hangs on there and is really stiff. Diff working
well again up to 4th gear, come through these high-speed S-es. Every bit as god as the Golf
through there, if anything a bit better on the transition from right to left. Hard on
the brakes again, bit squirmy, hard to get it down, ABS giving up the ghost a bit. Outbraked
myself a little bit there. Coming up to the last corner, keeping it nice
and tight, trying to get some good traction, up to 3rd gear and across the line. Sharper and more agile than the Golf, the
SEAT Leon recorded a lap time of 1.13.9 seconds. Which car comes out on top in our hot hatch
head-to-head? Well, it’s a bit expensive, but we really like the Golf R.It’s a great
road car – it’s fast, upmarket and composed. But on the track the SEATLeon Cupra may only
be FWD, but it has almost as much traction, it’s much more agile and it’s faster against
the stopwatch. Crucially it’s nearly £4,000 cheaper, so
in this head-to-head track battle it’s the SEAT Leon Cupra that takes victory. (Click here to see our latest videos)

100 thoughts on “Volkswagen Golf R vs SEAT Leon Cupra on track

  1. its so funny that this car sounds nothing from the outside and from the insides with that actuator hehe sounds like a v6

  2. In Germany tuners have already extracted 360 bhp from a simple remap on the Golf R. Its 4wd system can easily handle such increases in power & torque and the soon to be released Golf R Evo will probably be running similar power. I doubt the Seat could utilise any such power increases with its FWD powertrain. An interesting point for enthusiasts who love to modify & tune.

  3. I like how he said nothing positive about the Golf R…i know the Cupra has power to weight advantage but still this kind of seems biased.

  4. Stop buy the golf only for the name its name when you can buy a more faster Leon and cheaper! I think that Leon is more sportly but it's a personally opinion

  5. By the way, Cupra 280 just lost a comparison with Vauxhall Astra OPC, Megane RS, Golf R, GTI and BMW M135i in EVO car magazine.

    Winner (same points): Golf R and Megane RS
    2nd: Cupra 280

    Guess at least EVO uses real tests in which the driver doesnt use low revs to slow the R down.

  6. My only issue with the new Golf is just the exterior is still boring. The new lights are really nice but the face still seems a bit dull as it its seeming with a lot of the VW's they need to be refreshed up the entire range.

  7. Pretty obvious that "Auto Express" was running bias against the Golf-R here, yet it excelled favourably with other reviewers! Why's that.?

  8. And all this time I thought these cars were for UK and European roads, the only reason these "Journo's" take them on the track is because they have not spent their hard earned on buying them and neither are they paying for tyres and brakes.

  9. I see brand loyalty kicking in again, makes reading quite funny really.
    Some of the excuses… bit of rain when the R went round, its got the haldex system which if anything is advantageous in the damp (and that means the disadvantage would be for the SEAT and not the Golf).

    The big fact that most people are missing due to bickering is that they are both good cars, the SEAT is more suited to the track, the R looks to be that comfy cruiser with go when you need it, hence the GTI comments (which will probably still be VW's better seller over the R).

    Anyone who buys one or the other will have a great car that suits THEIR needs.

  10. what i find more interesting: the leon is just 0.3 seconds slower than the bmw m235i – so a proper balanced and lighter fwd car can really hold its own. nice stuff 🙂

  11. No, NO fué un seat cupra el que batío el record del FWD mas rápido, fué un CUPRA R, con mas potencia, con un pack opcional que se cita en el video y si con los slicks opcionales que te venden.

    No, it was not the seat cupra the car who beat the record of the fastest FWD, it was the CUPRA R, with a bit more power, the performance pack (yes, with brembo brakes etc) and the optional tires you can buy with the car so, this is not the best Seat Leon you can buy. It is the Leon Cupra R.

  12. lol this review sucks, couldnt have been more biased in my opinion…with a decent driver and not this dumbass the golf could be 2 sec faster then the cupra.

  13. So how exactly is 1.14.80 for the R slower than 1.15.06 for the GTI performance pack ? Owen needs to do his maths methinks.

  14. Check my channel for more volkswagen and seat. I filmed the Golf R in Red Black and Blue. The Cupra in Red and Black

  15. And here we shut up all stupids that are always saying "make it 4wd, make it 4wd" in focus RS videos or similar. FWD power b*tches.

  16. The golf looks like every other golf that's come out. It has more power, but the Seat looks better. I wish the Seat had 4WD then I might consider it.

  17. This review is not a good one. In order to better qualify the cars there should have been a time trial. Second  you need to have two drivers with equal race driving experience to test the vehicles. It's obvious that one of the drivers is less skilled in this review. As you noticed the host was in the Golf R first and stated how he is besting the SEAT and then he jumps into the SEAT and then proclaims that he is besting the Golf R. I'm surprised no one has picked up on this. 
    Now on to 4 wheel drive. People have to understand the different types of 4 wheel drive systems. You can't generalize 4 wheels drive systems into one definition. There are systems that are front wheel bias. There are systems that are rear wheel bias, etc. One can not say there is no difference between a car with all wheel drive and front wheel drive and leave it at that. That's foolishness and doesn't even deserve recognition. 
    Many things take affect how a car performs, from suspension, tires, all wheel drive systems, weight etc. 
    Again this review in my opinion was inconclusive and I would like to see them do it again with a time trial for both cars and again with drivers with racing experience of equal high value.

    Again, My Opinion!!!!!!!

  18. Seat can never be better than Golf! Why ? Well VW owns Seat and i highly doubt they`ll make it better than their own car. In fact most of the Seat models were build on VW technology. Same goes with Skoda … 

  19. How can this guy even see where he's going?! His eyes are in line with the top of the steering wheel. At one point he's driving along and his hand is entirely blocking his vision. I hate people who cannot correctly adjust their seat in a car.

  20. The Golf R needs another 100bhp to take full advantage of its 4wd system. On a rolling start from 10mph its no faster than a Golf gti, save yourself a few thousand £ and get the gti golf if you must have a golf lol

  21. Not exactly a fair review.
    You done one time with each car, and obviously you're gonna drive slightly better in the second run which is a bit unfair on the Golf R.

    Use more than one driver, do more than one test with both cars. That way you get a fair review.

    In my opinion, Golf R wins every time

  22. It's hilarious how many people comment complete bs because the R lost this test. Get a life you pansies, your excuses just prove how much of a loser you are.

  23. Who gives a shit about this petty argument there both great in different ways. We get the picture the golf is quicker in a straight line and seat pretty much equals it on a windy track unless your going to race on public roads through traffic shut the fuck up

  24. for me seat forever is faster , cheaper and more efficient than vw even in addition is the same group , why you are so stupid want to pay more monery for buy the same car

  25. I bet the Gold is much more fun to drive in the winter. I mean it's 4×4 nothing compares to that in the winter.

  26. Hmm so much to say. The Leon creamed the Golf, but look at the guy bouncing around in the Leon during cornering as the rear end struggles for traction.

    Even though my heart says go for the Leon, I think unless I was going to go on track, I'd be happier with the Golf most of the time. Especially on long journeys. Damn I hate being practical ;p

  27. Your head says seat, your heart says golf and the day your head decides what car you're going to buy you may aswell by a used Peugeot and give up on life. Subjectively the golf looks understatedly aggressive and stylish whereas the seat looks like some overstyled headlights on a bar of soap. The last generation Leon looked awful and oafish too but the one before… A gorgeous hot hatch.

  28. i have a question you think golf is better than cupra or are the same thing ? i want many many opinions

  29. How many will ever see a track day?? maybe 5 or 10%. In the real world of wet and greasy british roads 4 wheel drive is your best bet.

  30. He mensioned the brembo brake sub 8 pack for ever day uses on road its pointless specing the cupra with that option. I was getting my car serviced at seat the other week and we was looking at a 290 with the sub 8 pack. The guy at the service desk told me that to replace the brembo front discs and pads is about a £1000.

  31. test fail !!!
    should compare Seat Leon Cupra vs Golf GTI ClubSport S not Golf R (4 wheel Drive and 5 door)

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