SEAT Leon 1.8 TSI vs. Peugeot 208 GTi and Clio RS: Who Is Faster?

SEAT Leon 1.8 TSI vs. Peugeot 208 GTi and Clio RS: Who Is Faster? 5 photos
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SEAT Leon 1.8 TSI vs. Peugeot 208 GTi and Clio RS: Who Is Faster?
When you can't afford something, you go looking for the next best thing. But sometimes, downsizing from a top-notch hot hatch like the Megane RS or Leon Cupra can leave you disappointed.
There are two main alternatives: get a smaller hot hatch, like the Fiesta ST/Clio RS/Peugeot 208 GTI, or buy a big one with less power, like the Kia Cee'd GT/Renault Megane GT.

But we'd like to think that a top-notch alternative is the SEAT Leon FR. The story goes that with previous Leons, SEAT wanted the FR to be the Cupra and the Cupra to be the Cupra R, but Honda didn't let them use the letter.

However, today's hatch uses FR as just a trim level, a really good trim level with lowered suspension, a sporty interior and only the best engines. My pick would have to be the 1.8 TSI because it's slightly exotic.

"Exotic, have you gone crazy?"

Let me explain; in the good old days, before mass turbocharging and downsizing, nearly every car had three engines, the crap-tactic 1.4L, the average 1.6L and the exciting 1.8L. But one after the other, automakers dropped it to the point where only SEAT makes widespread use of it.

But how do 180 PS and 250 Nm of toque measure up against the 1.6-liter turbo engines of smaller hot hatchlings? I know for a fact that SEAT's official numbers are never to be trusted, so I decided some drag racer are in order.

The all happened late last October at a drag strip in France. Everybody agreed to the rolling start rule so that launch control wouldn't be a factor.

Against nearly all the little hot hatchbacks, the Leon loses in much the same way. With only 180 PS, it doesn't have the power it needs, but it manages to keep up and gains ground over 150 km/h, where aerodynamics are helping it.

Weight also plays a factor here, as the 1.8 TSI only has as much torque as the 1.4 TSI. Being the top gasoline engine, this version of the Leon gets a slightly heavier independent rear suspension, and this particular car is also fitted with a full panoramic roof, so it probably tips the scales at around 1350 kilos. That would explain why it also loses the race with the Audi A1 1.4 TFSI, which should have been impossible.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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