Might depend on what types of pads or leads you're after, but I've been happy with the sound capabilities of the Ultranova (not so much the factory patches). It's not going to be able to produce complex, textured pads like the Virus can being a single timbral synth, but then again the Virus can't do what Padshop Pro can do. As a stand-alone, live performance synth the Ultranova doesn't compete with the Virus, but as an addition to a DAW set up it's a lot of bang for the buck, because if you need to add complexity or texture to a sound, you can layer with a softsynth to fill in harmonics, pulsing background texture, or whatever. Not sure about Novation's other synths, but the UN does "cut through the mix" type sounds very well, which I think makes it most at home in a DAW environment.
That said, I think the value of the total package of the UN and the price point, (including the keyboard itself, the plugin, touch modulation, etc) is part of its strength and if we started to take away some of those features and raise the price, it would start to become less attractive fast. So, I wonder if they are entering treacherous waters with a $1300 synth that is only 8 voices, no keyboard or plugin control, etc.
I think the technology behind the Peak is the real news (the FPGA mentioned in my earlier message). While I've yet to hear a sound out of the Peak that made me want to run out and buy one, I think the innovation of using field programmable gate arrays for oscillator generation is noteworthy, and it will be interesting to see if other synths (either from Novation or other vendors) follow suit. It's an indication someone was thinking outside the box and doing something different, which is something I like to see in new instruments.