SEAT has set a new benchmark for the hot hatch world with its new Leon Cupra 280, being the first manufacturer to dip below the eight-minute mark with a front-driven road-car at the Nurburgring. The announcement was made during the 2014 Geneva motor show.
Piloted by SEAT racing driver Jordi Gene, the 276bhp Leon crossed the line in 7.58.4 – a staggering nine seconds quicker than previous titleholder, the Renaultsport Megane 265 Trophy – making it the fastest front-wheel drive production road-car to ever visit the ‘green hell’. The car used Brembo high-performance brakes and 19-inch alloys wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, all available with Seat’s Performance Pack option.
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As SEAT’s most powerful production car, the 5.7secs to 62mph Leon Cupra 280 utilises the same 2.0-litre TFSI engine found in Volkswagen’s Golf and Audi’s S3, but in the Spanish hatch’s case it drives the front wheels via a six-speed manual or optional dual-clutch DSG semi-auto ‘box. The lap record holding car utilised the faster changing DSG system, which worked with the impressive Haldex locking-differential found across the Volkswagen Group to place its power down on the twisting stretches of forest laden Nurburgring.
When we drove the Cupra 280 the traction created by the diff was nothing short of astounding, though we did think the car lacked the fun and involvement of the previous record holding Megane 265 Trophy.
That being said, the numbers speak for themselves; an average speed of 98mph and top speed of 150mph through the Tiergarten section means SEAT’s Leon Cupra 280 is truly the front-wheel drive king of the Nurburgring. But with Honda’s Type-R Turbo on the horizon and room for an R26.R style Renaultsport 265, how long is it before SEAT’s impressive lap-time is beaten?