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14 May 2013

SEAT's new Leon Cup Racer eats other touring cars for breakfast

Words by Leo Lim | Photos courtesy of SEAT S.A.
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With no existing Philippine dealer, I always had to follow SEAT's progress over the web and TV via the Wold Touring Car Championship (WTCC). Impressed, yes. Excited, well not really, that is until I saw their latest racing design concept. Enter the badass Leon destined to duke it out on the WTCC and other racing series in Europe: the SEAT Leon Cup Racer.
Compared to the current Leon they've been using in the WTCC for the past eight years, this is a completely "Belo-fied" third-generation five-door Seat Leon that's worthy to slug it out with the big guns. Without even considering what's under the skin, this Leon is wrapped in an aero kit that shames even the most hardcore ricer commonly found on our streets, or car shows even.
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I'm sure it's easy to see in photos what I'm talking about, but there are some things that need to be pointed out. The most noteworthy of all changes is the extreme stretch done to the body, which is a whole 400 mm wider than the production model. The oversized wheel-arches, on the other hand, cover the set of 18-inch racing wheels. The new front end was then scratch built to improve cooling for both the engine and the four-piston brakes during those intense laps at the track. And to help the chassis hug the ground, it was bestowed with all the aerodynamic goodies you could wish for such as flared sills, front spoiler, smooth undertray, rear diffuser, and a two-phase roof spoiler.
The SEAT Leon Cup Racer is just as race-ready inside as it is outside. Open the doors and you'll see the telltale signs of an extreme liposuction leaving just a multi-function steering wheel, the high-resolution TFT display console, a full roll cage, and a racing seat.
Getting into the details, a 330 hp 2.0 liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine sits under the Leon Cup Racer's hood with an axle-twisting 350 Nm of torque. And like any standard model release, the SEAT LEON Cup Racer can be bought in two trims. The first is the Sprint model with a six-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox controlled from the steering wheel, plus an electronically-controlled differential lock. The special Endurance version, on the other hand, is equipped with a sequential racing transmission with a shift lever on the center console and a mechanical differential lock.
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Priced at €70,000 (excl. VAT) for the Sprint and €95,000 (excl. VAT) for the Endurance version, or a cool P3.9 million and P5.0 million to us, it's definitely not for your regular weekend track day warrior. SEAT, however, is expecting to sell them to customer teams for the 2014 season. Not only that, they're also thinking of developing the Cup Racer for the WTCC, but with a 1.6 liter engine.