Spaniard in pole position: Seat Leon Cupra 290 in test

It is the hottest GTI in the VW group, only the name GTI, it doesn't have it. CUPRA stands for CUP RACER, a good opportunity to take a closer look at the Seat Leon Cupra during the sixth round of the SEAT Leon Eurocup. The Nürburgring and its Grand Prix circuit challenges the Cup drivers, the Eifel and its streets around it, the test car. Test of the 290 hp SEAT LEON CUPRA.

Test: Seat Leon Cupra 290

Pole position in the GTI class

If you have € 35.000 in the budget, you get a mid-range sedan with 150 hp diesel, a bit of equipment and often even less emotion. Or you think again, remember the dream cars of the youth and see what does the “Hot Hatch” class actually do? One likes to remember the past. Everything was better there. Sharper and of course much more emotional. For the same price, you can also get the spearhead from the Spanish athletic program. The Leon Cupra with 290 hp beckons.

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An exhaust system lightened by 5 kilograms with a middle silencer, less back pressure, a little bit-and-bytes jostling in the engine control unit and the 280 hp Cupra becomes a 290 hp Cupra. That fits in with the Spaniard's 20th anniversary. The “still” moderate base price of currently € 35.420 also includes adaptive shock absorbers and LED main headlights. And five doors. The Spaniard even has a practical argument on his side. If you need even more alibis to justify the purchase of a 290 PS compact, you can of course also use the station wagon with the ST in the name.

With the Cupra look, you stand out without being necessary. Those who like it more expressive can also choose from a supply of “war make-up”. But you don't have to. The buyer cannot avoid the two distinctive exhaust tailpipes and the light diffuser, but a simple paintwork takes away the visual sharpness of the athletic Leon. Although that would be the wrong decision. Take it in red! You're welcome.

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A look at the price list shows that the Spaniards are serious about the sporty demands of the Cupra 290. Under the item CUPRA Top Performance Package you will find an option that offers extreme measures. The elimination of the Climatronic, storage compartments and loudspeakers reduces weight. The customer pays an additional € 4.620 for this. The CUPRA performance package is included in the price list for € 3.060 and a must for real petrolheads. 19-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and one 4-piston brake system from Brembo then pack the seriousness of the sport project into clearly tightened arguments.

A mechanical front axle lock confirms the claims. And it is necessary. 290 HP and 350 Nm fall forcefully over the tires on the front axle. Even in third gear, the gasoline engine tugs properly on the leather-covered steering wheel at full load. On the country road, the character then transforms into “devotional”. Tight hairpin bends still pull the wheel, but if you find the easy flow over the Eifelstrasse, if you choose the soft line and don't let yourself be tempted too much by the persistently acting Brembo brake, you can swing the Cupra nimbly over the asphalt strip . The powerful Brembo system leads to late and hard braking points, simply because it works. The chassis, which can be adjusted at the push of a button, allows ambitious cornering speeds, while the smooth and rounded driving style is possible with slightly increased cornering speeds. The optional dual clutch transmission peppers the gears with hearty joy in the CUPRA mode in the shift gates. Just to give the looser partner in case of need and comfort or eco mode. A very successful spreading of the character, and that at the push of a button.

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If you are not on the hunt for pole position in the direction of the rev limiter, you will still find a fine everyday car in the Leon Cupra. The balancing act between the head of the GTI and the family carriage works very well. The Spaniards' sporting genes are never to be denied. With the 19-inch tires, the ride comfort is limited.

While the pilots in the Seat Leon Eurocup have an exciting fight on the racetrack, the Cupra 290 convinces with sporting ambition outside the racetrack, driven across the Eifelgassen. Here the VW subsidiary Seat has clearly put the sharper GTI on the wheels.

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