It is the sort of car which hot-hatch fans love for its performance at weekends and which is still civilized enough to drive every day.
You see a flamenco dancer and you know you are in for a treat and it’s the same with the SEAT Leon Cupra 280. It’s stylish, swift and sophisticated.
From its first incarnation in 2000, this is the third generation of the car and it was introduced with a completely new chassis including a wider track for greater stability and fully independent suspension to cope with deteriorating roads without compromising on handling.
You can have warm or hot versions with 265 or 280PS engines, and we tested the latter here, and it’s the most powerful engine made by SEAT in its history.
The engine’s outright performance is truly stunning from a standing start or slipping through the six gears with their instant paddle shift changes. It will cruise effortlessly and endlessly at the motorway limit and there is still a lot in reserve.
In its element winding through hills or country, the SEAT Cupra Leon is a rewarding drive and effortlessly covers the miles.
Responsive well-weighted steering and very strong but easy brakes ensure you do not tire while the grip and handling inspire confidence as well as composure.
You can hear how hard the systems are working by the loud road noise generated and there is some welcome exhaust activity as well which is more pleasing than punishing.
Inside the delightfully modern looking cabin you have good secondary controls and big instruments and I would recommend the selectable chassis control which tailors ride, handling and responses to a driver’s taste.
It provides good access and reasonable room with nicely shaped front seats and slightly less supporting ones behind.
Visibility is good thanks to deep windows, bright lights and effective wipers.
It is a very good package but it has a high insurance group rating as a result.
The SEAT Leon Cupra may not be first on your list of hot road cars when some German rivals may take that place, but it can hold its own against them and to my mind it has an understated ability to wipe the floor with them. No bull.
|Fast facts||SEAT Leon Cupra 280 5dr £28,530|
|Insurance group: 33E||Mechanical: 280PS 2.0 4cyl turbo-charged engine, 6sp|
|Max speed: 155mph||0-62mph: 5.7sec|
|Combined mpg: 34.7mpg on test||CO2 emissions: 149gkm|
|BIK rating: VED band G/ 22%||Warranty: 3yrs/ unlimited mileage|