Hot Hatch of the Year 2015: SEAT Leon Cupra
The SEAT Leon Cupra is the 2015 Auto Express Hot Hatch of the Year, with the Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI commended
There are more powerful rivals, and there are opponents that are more focused to drive, but none can match the all-round ability of SEAT’s Leon Cupra.
On a twisting B-road, the Cupra delivers huge grip and razor-sharp handling, especially when you select Cupra mode from the Drive Profile system. The standard adaptive dampers adjust to road conditions, while the Leon’s engaging chassis has been stiffened to deliver an even more focused drive. An electronically controlled limited-slip diff helps to put the 276bhp 2.0-litre turbo engine’s power down, and the lack of understeer in corners is astounding for such a powerful front-drive car.
Add in responsive steering and a rasping exhaust note in Cupra mode, and the Leon is a blast to drive fast. But the best hot hatch needs to be a master of many talents to shine, and selecting Comfort mode transforms the Cupra into a docile family car. And standard-fit stop/start helps to save fuel ready for the next B-road blast.
What’s more, the Leon doesn’t shout about its performance. SEAT does offer some colour packs to help the car stand out, but if you’d rather go incognito, then 19-inch alloys and subtle Cupra badging are the only giveaways to its potential.
And unlike many hot hatch rivals, there’s a Cupra to suit all occasions. The three-door SC will appeal to those with an eye for style, the five-door hatch is a fine all-rounder, while the ST estate can keep pace with the fastest of growing families.
Leon SC Cupra 280 (£27,910)
The three-door Leon Cupra is our pick, as the slightly sharper lines suit the hot hatch better than the five-door or estate models. You can get a DSG automatic gearbox, but while it adds launch control, we think the six-speed manual version is more engaging to drive.
Ford Fiesta ST
The Fiesta ST has managed to fend off a slew of new arrivals to keep its crown as the best supermini hot hatch. Its great-value price tag and massively entertaining chassis mean it could be all the car you’d ever need, while upgrading to the Mountune performance kit is money well spent.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
The car that started the hot hatch phenomenon is still a great choice for those drivers wanting a high-quality performance model that can keep them entertained and has a real feelgood factor about it. Stick with the tartan cloth trim and manual gearbox with its golf ball gearlever, while adding the Performance Pack is a wise move.
Auto Express New Car Awards 2015
For complete, in-depth coverage of the New Car Awards 2015, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now...
- 1IntroductionThe winners of the 2015 Auto Express New Car Awards have been announced
- 2Car of the Year 201512 years since the first generation model took the crown, the new Volvo XC90 is the 2015 Auto Express Car of the Year
- 3City car of the year 2015The Skoda Citigo is the 2015 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Hyundai i10 and Renault Twingo commended
- 4Supermini of the Year 2015The Volkswagen Polo is the 2015 Auto Express Supermini of the Year, with the Mazda 2 and Skoda Fabia commended
- 5Premium small Car of the Year 2015The Mini Cooper is the 2015 Auto Express Premium Small Car of the Year, with the Audi A1 and Citroen DS3 commended
- 6Compact family Car of the Year 2015The SEAT Leon is the 2015 Auto Express Compact Family Car of the Year, with the MINI 5dr and Skoda Octavia commended
- 7Family Car of the Year 2015The Skoda Superb is the 2015 Auto Express Family Car of the Year, with the Mazda 6 and Volkswagen Passat commended
- 8Estate Car of the Year 2015The Volkswagen Passat Estate is the 2015 Auto Express Estate Car of the Year, with the SEAT Leon ST and Skoda Octavia Estate commended
- 9MPV of the Year 2015The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is the 2015 Auto Express MPV of the Year, with the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and SEAT Alhambra commended
- 10Crossover of the Year 2015The Nissan Qashqai is the 2015 Auto Express Crossover of the Year, with the Citroen C4 Cactus and Mazda CX-3 commended
- 11Compact SUV of the Year 2015The Land Rover Discovery Sport is the 2015 Auto Express Compact SUV of the Year, with the Dacia Duster and Porsche Macan commended
- 12Large SUV of the Year 2015The Volvo XC90 is the 2015 Auto Express Large SUV of the Year, with the Kia Sorento and Range Rover Sport commended
- 13Pick-Up Truck of the Year 2015The Mitsubishi L200 is the 2015 Auto Express Pick-Up Truck of the Year, with the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok commended
- 14Hot Hatch of the Year 2015 - currently readingThe SEAT Leon Cupra is the 2015 Auto Express Hot Hatch of the Year, with the Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI commended
- 15Convertible of the Year 2015The Audi A3 Cabriolet is the 2015 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the BMW 4 Series and Porsche 911 Convertible commended
- 16Coupe of the Year 2015The Audi TT is the 2015 Auto Express Coupe of the Year, with the Jaguar F-Type and Porsche Macan commended
- 17Roadster of the Year 2015The Mazda MX-5 is the 2015 Auto Express Roadster of the Year, with the Jaguar F-Type and Porsche Boxster commended
- 18Performance Car of the Year 2015The Porsche 911 GTS is the 2015 Auto Express Performance Car of the Year, with the McLaren 650S and Mercedes-AMG GT commended
- 19Compact executive Car of the Year 2015The Jaguar XE is the 2015 Auto Express Compact executive Car of the Year, with the BMW 3 Series and Lexus IS commended
- 20Executive Car of the Year 2015The Audi A6 is the 2015 Auto Express Executive Car of the Year, with the BMW 5 Series and Tesla Model S commended
- 21Luxury Car of the Year 2015The Mercedes S-Class is the 2015 Auto Express Luxury Car of the Year, with the Bentley Mulsanne Speed and Range Rover commended
- 22Van of the Year 2015The Ford Transit is Auto Express' Van of the Year 2015, with the Fiat Doblo Cargo and Vauxhall Vivaro commended
- 23Green Car of the Year 2015The BMW i3 is the 2015 Auto Express Green Car of the Year, with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Peugeot 208 BlueHDi commended
- 24Technology Award 2015GM's OnStar service wins the Auto Express 2015 Technology Award
- 25Car Advertising Campaign of the Year 2015Honda is known for its inventive and captivating adverts, and the latest Civic Type R is no different
- 26Readers' Design Award 2015We asked you what your favourite car design is for 2015, and the new Jaguar XF has taken the crown
- 27Social Media Award 2015Social media is all about interacting with your audience, and we've named Toyota the best social media brand of 2015
- 28Driver Power Award 2015Lexus has long been a force to be reckoned with in our Driver Power survey. This year the brand scoops the Driver Power Award
- 29Hall of Fame 2015We've inducted GM's Executive Vice President and President for North America Alan Batey into our hall of fame, plus the Land Rover Defender