It might’ve been built to take a pounding on track, but Jairm Wooldridge’s tuned Leon Cupra also retains the looks to make even the finest show car red in the face. Because, after all, image is everything…
Feature first appeared in Performance VW. Sam Preston & Adam Walker (flatoutmedia.org)
Those who haven’t attended a local track day before might be surprised to learn that it’s not normally a sea of Italian hypercars and spanking German super-saloons pouring out of the paddocks at these ever-popular events.
Instead, it’s the tight-knit community of ‘caged Clio and slick tyre-adorned Caterham owners that form the backbone of this scene, relentlessly hammering their steeds around their favourite circuits come rain or shine.
Unlike other automotive sub-cultures you may be more familiar with, this is a group where members are usually far more concerned with the likes of tyre pressures and spring rates than with paint finishes and the perfect fitment. Unless you’re Jairm Wooldridge, that is…
If there’s anyone who knows about how to make a car look good, it’s Berkshire-based Jairm. One half of Detail my Car – the first dedicated detailing studio and car care centre in the local area – he’s spent the last few years dedicating his life to the art of making vehicles appear fresher even than when they left the factory.
It’s probably little surprise to hear, then, that when it came to developing his own track day toy – that would be modified to within an inch of its life before being used and abused on a regular basis – the process would be carried out with a little more class and attention-to-detail than your regular track driver would ever dream of.
“I’ve had a fair few VAG cars in the past,” Jairm recalls. “I’ve always thought that Cupras offer great value-for-money, though.” Snapping up this second-generation SEAT Leon Cupra a few years back and initially intending to use it as the fast hot-hatch daily that these celebrated machines are so effective at being, it didn’t take long for the modifying potential of this platform to pique his interests.
Also purchasing a clean Mk3 Leon Cupra to take over the day-to-day driving duties, Jairm soon got stuck in to the task of taking this TFSI-powered Mk2 to the next level. The plan? To create an incredibly fun and competent track build, that would also retain his company’s famously impressive levels of cleanliness from top to bottom, of course.
Keen to build on the potential-packed 2.0-litre turbo unit sitting under the bonnet, Jairm enlisted the help of Nuneaton-based R-Tech Performance to help safely ramp up the power. It’s why you’ll now find a super-effective TTE420 hybrid turbocharger unit from The Turbo Engineers sitting pretty in the engine bay.
Supported with a Relentless de-cat downpipe and Milltek exhaust, as well as the likes of Audi RS4 fuel injectors and a huge R-Tech intercooler, it’s helped the SEAT develop peak performance of 426hp and 411lb ft of torque once dialled in on R-Tech’s rollers with one of their bespoke ECU calibrations.
Certainly colossal numbers from a relatively lightweight FWD hot hatch, but headline power figures were never the top priority for young Jairm. Instead, he wanted to ensure he was left with a car that was fully useable and exploitable when being given a pounding on his local race track.
Luckily, R-Tech was there to help once again, building up the impressive engine with plenty of other goodies that would ensure it kept its cool even when the going got tough. Goodies such as a trick Devilsown methanol injection system to accommodate more ignition timing without the risk of overheating, for example.
With such a significant hike in power to play with, it’s probably not a shock to hear that the car’s six-speed manual ‘box has also been bolstered up to help it continue performing at its best. Adding an all-important Wavetrac LSD to improve on-track driver thrills no-end, it also features a sturdier Helix clutch, stronger internals and a short-shifter system, too.
Sounds pretty impressive so far, right? This theme continues to the underside of the competent tuned Leon Cupra, where BC Racing coilovers, H&R ARBs and tough Revo engine/gearbox mounts keep things in check when it comes to the more twisty Tarmac. Especially when set off by those thoroughly motorsport ATS DTC wheels shod in sticky Yokohama rubber. Drool.
Keeping his sensible head on, Jairm’s opted for some pretty formidable brake upgrades, too; the front units taken from an Audi TT RS and the rears from a Golf R32.
Up until now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was turning into just another functional track steed that Jairm would next rip the innards from in the pursuit of ultimate performance. But in fact, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
Just one look at the tuned Leon Cupra’s impressively plush and beautifully presented body and interior are enough to confirm that, somehow, this is one owner that’s managed to successfully span the notoriously fine line of maintaining a show-worthy track car.
“My favourite bits are the carbon fibre bonnet and boot lid… these took me a long time to source and came from a Supercopa race car, so are extremely light!” Jairm grins, touching on what is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sumptuous exterior upgrades. There’s also some boxy widened front arches, and a full body wrap in Audi’s Nardo Grey hue to give off an unbeatable military aesthetic to the whole thing.
Talking of military, this ties in nicely to the location of Jairm’s business: Detail my Car. “We are based at the former RAF Greenham Common site, where we occupy a 4000-square-foot workshop that was previously used to maintain the cruise missile launch trucks during the Cold War,” he nonchalantly explains. We reckon these effortlessly cool surroundings played more than a small part in the way Jairm was inspired to style his SEAT, don’t you?
In the cockpit of the beast, there’s a classy ‘clubsport’ vibe that takes the do-anything theme of the hot hatch and cranks it up to 11. Think sumptuous fixed-back Recaros, a carpeted seat-deleted rear section and a killer ICE system to ensure this is no one-trick pony and retains the comfort factor for the odd long journey here and there, too.
“I love the balance of power and handling the car now offers me. For me, it ticks all the boxes,” Jairm proudly tells us. “I use it for spirited drives and a couple of track days a year, and despite it being heavily modified it remains fairly comfortable on long runs and is no worse on fuel than it was stock!”
What is it exactly that’s so effective about Jairm’s tuned Leon Cupra here, then? Some would say the bulletproof and hilariously rapid powerplant that R-Tech has developed is undoubtedly the highlight of the entire build, and quite rightly so. But it’s the little details that Jairm has painstakingly kept to such a high standard elsewhere on this masterpiece that also wow in equal measures.
Put it all together, and you’re left with what is usually the most unforgettable machine to grace the pits at any track event it visits. The moral of this story? Track toys deserve to look awesome, too!
Tech Spec: Tuned Leon Cupra
2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder (BWJ-code), The Turbo Engineers TTE420 hybrid turbocharger, custom R-Tech ECU calibration, Revo intake system, 3.5-inch Relentless de-cat downpipe, Milltek Sport cat-back Cupra R exhaust system, B8 Audi RS4 fuel injectors, Deutschwerks low-pressure fuel pump, Loba high-pressure fuel pump, R-Tech ‘Welly’ intercooler with hard pipes and bayonet delete, AKS Tuning throttle body spacer/meth port, pre-intercooler methanol nozzle, Devilsown Progressive water/methanol injection kit with Devilsown tank, solenoid and filter, WMI methanol kill switch, AKS Tuning 160bar fuel pressure relief valve, Forge Motorsport Supersize diverter valve, intake runner flap delete, Forge Motorsport coolant bottle and washer bottle pipe, Audi R8 oil cap, hydro-dipped Audi TTS engine cover, six-speed manual gearbox, Wavetrac LSD, Helix organic clutch, short-shifter with AKS Tuning solid bushes, fourth gear support, steel selector forks, brass shifter bushes
8.5×18” ATS DTC alloy wheels, 235/40/18 Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R tyres, Garage Midnight stud conversion, BC Racing coilovers and drop links, Superpro Anti-Lift Kit, H&R anti-roll bars (front and rear), Revo engine, gearbox and dogbone mounts, Audi TT RS four-pot brake calipers with AKS Tuning 345mm discs (front), Golf R32 brake setup with 310mm discs (rear)
Full Hexis Graphics vinyl wrap in Audi Nardo Grey, widened front wings, LineaR front grille, Supercopa race car carbon fibre bonnet with AeroCatches and carbon fibre boot lid, Aero front splitter and canards, BTCC rear spoiler and side skirts, Cupra R rear diffuser and splash guards, 8000k xenon DS1 bulbs, Nighteye LED full-beam bulbs, light smoke tinted rear lights, custom Cupra 420 badge
Recaro Pole Position fixed-back bucket seats, Sabelt 4-point harnesses, rear seats removed, Tylah Motorsport bolt-in harness bar, custom flocked rear brace, removable 300mm OMP steering wheel, flocked/hydro-dipped dash trims, Hertz HDP1 amplifier, door speakers and Mille 8 sub-woofer in hidden enclosure, Pioneer DAB head unit, interior LED lighting