Whereas Honda is making promises about building the most extreme series-production front-wheel drive car with the fastest time around the Nürburgring track (we're talking about next year's Civic Type R), Seat quietly and without the need of any dramatic aero kits set the record straight by obliterating the Renault Megane RS Trophy's time of 8:07.97, standing from 2011.
Seat's new Leon Cupra 280 achieved an amazing time of 7:58.4, becoming the first FWD production model to drop below the eight-minute barrier. This scorching hot hatch is faster on the 'Ring than the V8-powered BMW M3 E92 (8:05) and Cadillac CTS-V (7:59) – according to the times listed on Wikipedia.
The announcement on the record breaking lap was made during the Leon Cupra 280's presentation at the Geneva Motor Show, where Seat's president, Jürgen Stackmann stated: “Our ultimate expression of the successful Leon formula is the all new Leon Cupra. It is the fastest and the most powerful car we have ever built and yet is a comfortable family car. The Cupra is our new icon.”
Available in both three- and five-door body styles, the MQB platform-based (same as the Audi A3/VW Golf) Leon Cupra 280 is the more potent version of the base 262hp (265PS) Leon Cupra, with its tweaked 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivering 280PS (276hp) and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) of torque from 1,750 to 5,600 rpm.
With the optional DSG transmission, the Cupra 280 goes from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.7 seconds (5.8 seconds with the manual gearbox) and has a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).
In Geneva, Seat also displayed the racing car version of the new Leon Cupra with 330PS (325hp). It will have its on-track debut in May at the start of the new single-brand championship, the SEAT Leon Eurocup, to be held over six weekends in six European cities.
By John Halas