The engine is still a 2-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder, common to other VW Group products such as the VW Golf R and Audi S3, but power is up by 10bhp over the old Cupra 290 to 296bhp at 5500rpm. Peak torque has now risen to 280lb ft, developed from just 1800rpm. The effect is constant, strong urge almost throughout the rev range
A sports exhaust is now standard fit. It saves 5.8kg as well as reducing back pressure and, we’re told, producing a more stirring soundtrack. In reality it's a pleasant-sounding drivetrain but not a particularly stimulating one.
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There are still two transmission options – a six-speed manual gearbox and the optional six-speed twin clutch DSG, which commands a £1350 premium. The 300 also comes with an electronically controlled mechanical limited slip differential as standard, the same unit that is fitted to the Skoda Octavia VRS 230.
The Sub8 Performance Pack is carried over from the previous version. For £2050 it adds 19-inch wheels in black or orange and heavily uprated Brembo brakes. For another £460 Seat will add sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The £4250 Ultimate Sub8 package includes all of the above, but cuts weight by removing some of the speakers and the air conditioning system. Bucket seats are a £1250 option.
Seat’s Cupra Drive Profile system offers Comfort, Sport and Cupra drive modes, plus a customisable Individual setting that allows you to configure the drivetrain, steering, dampers and differential to your liking. The ESP system can be fully deactivated, but only by delving into the menu system.
While DSG will offer you the best performance the Cupra 300 comes with a sweet manual gearshift that gives you easy access to the car’s ample performance. It’d be our choice, even if a slightly over-servoed brake pedal means heel-and-toe downchanges aren’t as satisfying as they might be. You don't get that option on the ST 4Drive, which is DSG-only.