Monday, 4 July 2011

Goodwood shuttle: Seat Leon Cupra 20V T

Having spent the last three days at the Festival of Speed, you can expect a few Goodwood posts in the very near future. But first of all, here's a tribute to my own car, the Cupra 20V T, that put a smile on my face by shuttling me back and forth on the 120-mile round-trip each day at high speed and without complaint. I know that it should be taken as read that modern-ish cars offer this kind of speed/reliability combo, but nevertheless it's worth giving it a little pat on the head. I'm not really used to having reliable cars...
What follows is a guest post I wrote for the excellent Not£2Grand blog - click here to view at source.


Blasting around in cheap, quick, disposable motors is something every young petrolhead loves to do. But for some, a day comes when it’s necessary to consider something a little more sensible; something with a dash stuffed with pillowy airbags and a nannying ECU to keep you safe. Something that will definitely start on cold mornings, that won’t be too crashy and jarring if you need to take your grandma to the shops, and that will safely accommodate the young family you may find yourself spawning. This is the time of life when you buy a Golf.

...except that you don’t. Because this isn’t a niche phenomenon; it happens to loads of people, and for that reason, though the market may be flooded with Golfs, they hold their value because they’re the default option for the grown-up boy racer who’s forced to buy something his wife/insurance company approve of. So you can get a decent mkIV pretty easily, but it won’t come cheap. And cheap is what N£2G is all about. So where are we going with this...?

Well, researching which Golf to buy will quickly tell you a number of things; firstly, that you need a GTI. There’s no point going for a lesser model as the dinky engine won’t bring you any joy (your petrolhead itch still needs to be scratched, after all), and the stingey spec may make you sad. But you don’t want the 2.0 GTI – with a mere 115bhp, you might as well be walking. You really need to be going for the GTI Turbo – forced induction is awesome, obviously – but then, you’re still only getting 150bhp. That’ll be fun, but... well, the red-badge 2.3 V5 would give you 170bhp and be better equipped. There is a later GTI Turbo with 180bhp, but that’s well out of budget. And the V6 4Motion is just pie in the sky. Oh, it’s a minefield!

It isn’t, really. The obvious answer is this: you don’t want a Golf. You want a Seat Leon Cupra 20V Turbo.

Underneath the skin, it is a Golf. That’s a fact. So you’ve covered off your reliability/safety/sensibleness checklist right there. But the fun part, for the times when you’re allowed out sans famille, resides beneath the bonnet. That, my friends, is basically the same engine as you’d find in the Golf GTI Turbo. But you don’t have to make do with 150bhp. You see, said engine can also be found in the Audi TT, with a 20v head and a muscular 180bhp. And the Leon Cupra’s engine is *exactly* the same spec as the TT’s. Pretty cool, huh? (And check out the racing provenance.)

So, you get a Spanish Golf GTI with an Audi TT engine for much, much less money than even a ropey Golf. Avoid the garish yellows and choose a navy blue or burgundy example and you’ve got a proper sleeper – safe for the kids, reliable as the day is long... and with a whistly-snail that’ll keep your inner hooligan happy. Who says we don’t offer strong consumer advice?

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