Cupra Leon Sports Tourer vs VW Golf R Variant

Cupra Leon Sports Tourer vs VW Golf R Variant

The numbers speak for themselves. New Cupra The Leon Sportstourer beat its predecessor by 3.7 seconds at the Hockenheimring. The VW Golf R variant is 5.5 seconds faster than the last generation we tested at sport auto 9/2019.

At that time, compact station wagons struggled on the racetrack in temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius. This time the situation is good for their turbo engines. As a result, R gets 8 km / h (!) on the home stretch and 6 km / h on the Parabolica. 20 more hp is not enough for this advantage. Cupra, which has been developed with 10 hp, has a speed of 5 or 4 km / h. That brings up the lap time.

Summer vs. winter: That’s certainly part of the explanation why the two have been so fast. But it would be wrong to reduce it to just that. In fact, the two have made great strides because their technology has advanced significantly on the modular transition matrix (MQB Evo). In golf, given the lap times, one can talk about a quantum leap thanks to the technological revolution.

Last kick for golf

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Thanks to the torque converter, the Golf R makes a huge leap in terms of lateral dynamics.

Please don’t get me wrong. The R variant has always been a good car. Quick in acceleration. attraction. Pay attention to the curves. A guaranteed miner, an all-purpose weapon, but an entertainer? Instead, the back did not play enough for it. The last kick was missing. This is exactly the case with the new all-wheel drive system and flexible torque distribution to the rear axle. The torque converter, which models such as the Audi RS 3, Cupra Formentor VZ5 and Tiguan R also have, is something of a game changer for him – towards more lateral dynamics.

You can feel the effect even on winter tires. To be honest, what R Variant does is a good movie. In entering the corner, he creates doubts. The front wheels draw their profile in white lane markings. In the underground, in the depths of electricity, the director, the manager of driving dynamics, is already pulling the strings. Golf makes the driver easy. Before the peak, he can stimulate the torque through the gas pedal. The variant then straightens its hind legs, shortens the radius of the curve and roars into the following straight line as if guided by magic. Don’t say Wolfsburg are conservative, Wolfsburg is boring! There is life in the cabin!

Cupra without torque splitter

Thanks to the two handles on the back, the R holds two racquets in one hand. They play and break drive times down to milliseconds. Turn right, shoot up from the left. To turn left, bang from the right, so that the center car turns around the vertical axis.

Cupra Leon Sports Tourer, exterior

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The Cupra Leon creates a cornering effect through a very soft measured brake intervention inside a curve.

The repertoire of strokes is large. In fast corners, the Torque Splitter taps the rear to engage. The system pushes the loading area backwards and forwards in alternating curves. It puts the rear end in slow corners and pushes it into a slight oversteer on the exit. The Road R tears up country roads, turns corners on a Sunday getaway alongside the Hyundai i30 N and Ford Focus ST and entertains the driver without drama. But he still has some weight.

The Cupra is also fun – but in a different way. The Spaniard does not produce a cornering effect by accelerating the wheel mainly out of the bend, but through a very soft measured brake intervention inside the bend. It must not involve a new four-wheel drive trick out of the hood. That remains reserved for the Golf and ensures that the station wagons are now more varied than they used to be.

Not yet at the helm. In both models in comfort mode, it is completely worn around the central axis and increases the difficulty in sports driving levels. You always have the feeling that the wheels are connected, but the steering wheel cannot hold them. In the Cupra Sports Tourer it is slightly better than in the VW.

Cupra Leon Sports Tourer, exterior

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The Cupra drives in reverse – happily, but purposefully around corners.

Both station wagons slide sideways in the course of the curve. In the Golf, the systems struggle with understeer, the Cupra blows it away. The compact from Martorell is the one that conveys the sharpness in the widest possible way. He throws it around without being damaged. When braking, it stays in the lane. As soon as you release the brakes and turn more aggressively, it loads the lateral movements into the trunk. 620 liters fit in the Sports Tourer, with the rear seats folded up to 1,600 litres. In the Variant it is between 611 and 1,642 liters.

Very fast in slalom

Sports pragmatists with a lot of steam under their hoods have blossomed into performance specialists. Golf is more purposeful and looks more stable when changing direction quickly. His body leans a little to the side, but this is not noticeable in everyday comparison. In slalom yes. The VW squeezes down the road at a speed of 70.2 km/h. He slows down a bit with the gas used every time. The opposite happens with the heavy right leg. All-wheel drive spins it into motion.

The Cupra’s tuning is best suited for slalom. It requires little change of load to insert and swing efficiently with its rear end – always easy to control and pleasant for the driver. However, it is not as fast and not as fast as its predecessor. The old ST apparently had a top speed of 71.6 km / h – or it benefited from a Michelin tire, which was replaced by a Bridgestone Potenza Race.

VW Golf R Variant, exterior

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Golf protects occupants more from bumps and potholes, but lacks contact in return.

As soon as you start the engine, the Golf makes it clear what it stands for. He chooses “Sport” as the entry program and not “Comfort”. Alternatively there are “Race” modes as well as “Drift” and “Special” – the latter for race tracks such as the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. The damping is then not set as hard as a board, but rather soft to provide better traction on rocks and bumps. In addition, the R holds the gear.

Additional driving programs are part of the R-Performance package (2,095 euros), which includes 19-inch Estoril alloy wheels and an increase in top speed to 270 km / h.

Golf better in everyday life

The dampers, which can be adjusted in 15 steps, are included in the Cupra, and cost more in the R. On the other hand, the Cupra does not do as much balancing in everyday life as the Golf, which handles bumps and potholes with more confidence. The Cupra doesn’t protect its occupants as much, but it has more communication in return.

VW Golf R Variant, interior

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In the variant you will find more valuable interior, but the operation is a nightmare.

Both develop certain neurological abilities. In the Sports Tourer, it’s an artificial engine that roars through the speakers in “Sport” mode and especially in “Cupra” mode. The car sonicates the driver, almost starting to bother him. Operation is far from perfect in both cars. The flat steering in the Cupra at least has clearly defined, adjustable cruise control buttons.
Cruise control, steering wheel heating and Co. In a VW with embedded touch surfaces, you never know if you’ve hit the right control panel, whether the system even swallows the command.

The R variant has a more premium interior and slightly more comfortable seats. In the test, he allows to stop in between. It is very cold outside this Saturday. But it’s not cold enough to justify turning the interior into a sauna. The climate control blinks without meaning, the touch sliders refuse commands. Instead, VW reports: “The function is only available without a trailer.” The engine is turned off – it does not help. Sometimes, after about 15 minutes, he catches himself again.

R wins sports tourers

He is supreme as a person when testing. Compared to its predecessor, the R has increased by 20 Nm in its peak – and it sets itself slightly apart from its group mate. This time he is not looking at the Cupra pipeline, but he is deciding the race standards for himself. Bigger and lighter brakes due to model changes also give him the best measurement levels in this discipline. From 100 km / h, the Golf station car stops after 32.3 meters. From 200 km / h after 134.7 meters. Despite the Brembo brake system, which faces an additional charge, the sports tourer is left behind. The following applies to both: ABS controls the world better than ever.

Cupra Leon Sports Tourer, VW Golf R Variant, exterior

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The R variant is the most athletic variant, the Cupra Leon can only keep up with long-term dynamics.

Both pop snotty: a real exhaust storm and almost a lot of good stuff. In both, one searches for winding roads before going to a liquor market or a furniture store. Both are doing everything they can to stay in business – so that eventually they won’t be able to drive an SUV out of business. Both make a point. R increases by a total of eight points – compared to its predecessor according to the Golf 7. Cupra may lose face-to-face, but it offers impressive performance. He gets 1.9 seconds at Hockenheim because he doesn’t have a torque divider. A little can return to the tires. Michelin semi-slicks are hard to beat.


With both sports suits you can not only fasten straight ahead and keep cargo well, but also pierce through curves. The R variant is the most athletic variant – thanks to the differential torque distribution between the rear wheels, which works very well. Torque Splitter turns him into an acrobat who performs on the racetrack in a completely different way than before. His corporate brother from Spain can only continue in terms of longitudinal movements. By the way, an important point: the “ordinary” customer cannot order a Bridgestone tire.