SEAT Leon Cupra vs Renaultsport Megane

23 Apr, 2014 1:00pm

Powerful new SEAT Leon Cupra hits track to tackle Renaultsport Megane

Hot hatchback fans have never had it so good. Cars like the Ford Focus ST and Mercedes A45 AMG, plus Volkswagen’s Golf GTI and R, are pushing the envelope of performance for small hatches to new limits.

One such hot hatch with a cult following is the SEAT Leon Cupra. As with past versions, the new third-generation model is the hottest and most focused driving machine in the brand’s line-up. So does the Cupra deliver the thrills to put it at the front of the pack, or will it trail behind a consistent benchmarker?

SEAT Leon Cupra review

Renaultsport Megane 265 review

To find out, we’ve lined up the recently facelifted Renaultsport Megane – a hot hatch that delivers an intense driving experience few competitors can match. We see if the new SEAT has the talent to edge ahead.

Click the links above to read each review, and then read on for our verdict.

Head-to-head

Styling

Our biggest gripe with the SEAT Leon Cupra is that it looks understated. While the Renaultsport’s black alloy wheels, red detailing and F1-inspired front spoiler won’t be to all tastes, the sporty touches at least make it stand out from the regular Megane Coupe. It’s only when you line up the Cupra next to a Leon FR that you can really see the differences between the standard version and SEAT’s new flagship model.

Badge heritage

SEAT introduced the Cupra badge on the original Leon in 1999. Renaultsport has more heritage, having replaced the Alpine marque in 1994, and it’s synonymous with the Clio and Megane hot hatches. Both brands use their badges to promote motorsport activity and one-make racing across the globe.

Performance

On the test track, the Leon was faster than the Megane from 0-60mph thanks to the launch control on our DSG test model. There was nothing between the two under braking, but the SEAT was a more consistent performer.

Verdict

1st place: SEAT Leon Cupra

The SEAT Leon Cupra delivers stunning performance and handling in a high-quality package, plus it represents decent value for money and won’t cost a lot to run. What's more, it can be civilised when you’re taking it easy. We think it’s the best front-wheel-drive hot hatchback you can buy today.

2nd place: Renaultsport Megane 265

There’s no faulting the Renaultsport Megane’s performance on the limit, and it’s still a great-handling hot hatch. But its looks and cabin quality are starting to show their age. Also, the focused driving experience will be too much for most people on a daily basis.

Figures

SEAT Leon SC Cupra 280 DSG Renaultsport Megane 265
On-the-road price/total as tested £28,230/£30,930 £26,930/£31,665
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000) £12,927/45.8% £11,028/41.0%
Depreciation £15,303 £15,902 £15,902
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £1,233/£2,467 £1,436/£2,871
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £2,005/£3,342 £2,846/£4,744
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 33/£340/F/£145 40/£422/H/£205
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £169/£199/£169 £299 (4yrs/48k)
Length/wheelbase 4,236/2,596 mm 4,299/2,636 mm
Height/width 1,423/1,810 mm 1,435/1,848 mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,984cc 4cyl in-line/1,998cc
Peak power 276/5,350 bhp/rpm 261/5,500 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 350/1,750 Nm/rpm 360/3,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd auto/fwd 6-spd manual/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 50 litres/£95 60 litres/£95
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 380/1,210 litres 344/991 litres
Kerbweight/payload 1,421/489 kg 1,379/456kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient 10.7 metres/N/A 11.4 metres/0.34Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (60,000)/2yrs 4yrs (100,000)/4yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers 20k miles (2yrs)/128 18k miles (1yr)/153
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 27th/31st 21st/9th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars 94/92/70/5 5/4/2/87 pts (pre-2009)
0-60/30-70mph 5.5/4.4 secs 5.8/5.3 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 2.5/3.6 secs 2.6/3.9 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 4.8/6.6 secs 5.2/7.3 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 155mph/2,400rpm 158mph/2,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 49.9/36.7/9.3 m 49.8/36.3/9.4m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph 61/45/66/72dB 63/46/69/74dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 35.2/7.7/387 miles 24.8/5.5/327 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 34.4/52.3/44.1mpg 28.8/45.6/37.7mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 7.4/10.9/9.4mpl 6.3/10.0/8.3mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 185/149g/km/22% 263/174g/km/27%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/camera Seven/yes/yes/no Six/yes/yes/£350
Auto box/stab/adaptive cruise ctrl Yes/yes/£500 No/yes/no
Climate ctrl/leather/heated seats Yes/£755/£350 Yes/£1,250/£1,250*
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go £495^/LEDs/no £525/no/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/£240/yes

Disqus - noscript

Euro Trash! Get a Jaaaaaaaaaaag!! (for the love of G_d, and my job.)

Got one and its fantastic thanks. I must say this is quite a restrained post, usually you are spouting far more rubbish.

For those that don't know AHallmark is one of many names used by a regular commenter on here who once suffered a humiliating ignominious defeat in an argument on one of these discussions.

Ever since he has popped up regularly to have a dig at Jaguar/LandRover at every opportunity, spouting lies and racist rants about India in an attempt to get some kind of vengeance.

What he should really be doing is getting counselling to help him get over it.

The renault sport megane is obsolete vs the newer hatchbacks. Better results cornering, better hardwarem better priced and much faster in a straight line. Basically the renault doesn't have anything in its favour.

Well remember the Megane is old now and has been the benchmark for all these cars now coming out.

No doubt the new one will set a new benchmark or even the run out model.

I'd say the Focus ST is the best hot hatch on sale. It has two more doors and therefore more practical. The ride is better and the looks are better - both the interior and exterior - while being just as fun to drive. Oh and almost £7K cheaper and still cheaper with most, in not all, the options ticked.

AEX 1337
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