What they don’t teach you at journalism school is to start an article with a sentence containing an expression such as modularer querbaukasten. Still, I’ll press on.
The phrase, as you might guess, is German. Volkswagenisch German, in fact, for “modular transverse kit of parts”. MQB for short. MQB makes for a very flexible way for a car company to produce lots of different sized, styled and shaped models, to suit different markets and consumer preferences using the same basic engines, suspension bits and so on. It is rather cleverer than what we used to term “badge engineering”, where only a badge denoted a different car (as seen on Opels and Vauxhalls nowadays).
So far as the VW Group’s Seat Leon Cupra is concerned, this is a Golf GTI for people who aren’t too bothered about the cachet attached to the storied GTI name, and who like a little more value for money. So you get more kit, more power and more sophisticated drivetrains and suspensions. This Seat is a very satisfying alternative to a Golf GTI, I have to admit, and it deserves to do better than it does. The Golf, now in Mark 7 iteration, is a familiar, classic sort of shape, evolved over four decades.
The Leon has to try harder to make an identity for itself, and this it does with well-judged “brows” along its flanks and a restrained but still purposeful “face”. In an attempt, probably premature, to promote “Cupra” as a performance sub-brand, the name is spelt out boldly across the boot lid, just so everyone knows that you are just as proud of the Cupra as theyare.
Proud, too, because this year the Leon set a lap record at the Nurburgring for a front wheel drive production model, which is plenty good enough for me. The power – there are two slightly different outputs available – is delivered with little drama but plenty of excitement, the electronics keeping you out of trouble. In five-door form especially, the Leon is as practical as anything this side of a Skoda Octavia Estate VRS (also based on the same kit parts and also an interesting alternative to a GTI). With such choice available and such formidable products, VW Group have made their production engineering work for their customers. MQB: QED.
Price £25,980 (£27,345 as tested)
ENGINE Capacity 2-litre petrol
POWER OUTPUT (PS @ RPM) 265 @ 5,350
TOP SPEED (MPH) 155
FUEL ECONOMY (MPG) 42.8
CO2 EMISSIONS (g/km) 154Reuse content