SEAT Leon Cupra vs Renaultsport Megane

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.



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.


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.


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.


 SEAT Leon SC Cupra 280 DSGRenaultsport 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%
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/cost33/£340/F/£14540/£422/H/£205
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£169/£199/£169£299 (4yrs/48k)
Length/wheelbase4,236/2,596 mm4,299/2,636 mm
Height/width1,423/1,810 mm1,435/1,848 mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,984cc4cyl in-line/1,998cc
Peak power276/5,350 bhp/rpm261/5,500 bhp/rpm
Peak torque350/1,750 Nm/rpm360/3,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd auto/fwd6-spd manual/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel50 litres/£9560 litres/£95
Boot capacity (seats up/down)380/1,210 litres344/991 litres
Kerbweight/payload1,421/489 kg1,379/456kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.7 metres/N/A11.4 metres/0.34Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/2yrs4yrs (100,000)/4yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers20k miles (2yrs)/12818k miles (1yr)/153
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.27th/31st21st/9th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars94/92/70/55/4/2/87 pts (pre-2009)
0-60/30-70mph5.5/4.4 secs5.8/5.3 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.5/3.6 secs2.6/3.9 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th4.8/6.6 secs5.2/7.3 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph155mph/2,400rpm158mph/2,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph49.9/36.7/9.3 m49.8/36.3/9.4m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph61/45/66/72dB63/46/69/74dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range35.2/7.7/387 miles24.8/5.5/327 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined34.4/52.3/44.1mpg28.8/45.6/37.7mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined7.4/10.9/9.4mpl6.3/10.0/8.3mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket185/149g/km/22%263/174g/km/27%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/yes/noSix/yes/yes/£350
Auto box/stab/adaptive cruise ctrlYes/yes/£500No/yes/no
Climate ctrl/leather/heated seatsYes/£755/£350Yes/£1,250/£1,250*
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go£495^/LEDs/no£525/no/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/£240/yes

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