These days, with so much quality on offer wherever you look, picking a favourite hot-hatch can be like choosing between your own children. Family schisms apart, we’re not alone in having a soft spot for the feisty Spanish flair of the Seat Leon Cupra; even though the Audi RS 3 and VW Golf R will both be getting exactly the same amount of money in their Christmas cards this year. That said, there’s nothing like a bit of raw power to catch the eye of the passing petrol-head. Released by the Spanish marque this week, the new Seat Leon Cupra 300 has that in abundance. So much so, that it’s the most powerful road car the company has ever produced.
More of a range than a one off special, the all new Leon CUPRA 300 comes in three differing bodystyles; the entry level SC, the five-door hatch and the range-topping ST.
Pulling the strings under the bonnet is a newly uprated 2.0 litre turbo petrol engine whose 296bhp bestows the Cupra 300 with the title of the most powerful Seat road car ever produced. This hike of roughly 10bhp over the outgoing Cupra may not sound like anything too earth-shattering. However, combined with a significant increase in torque from 250lb/ft to 280lb/ft, the new Leon Cupra 300 should shave more than a few tenths off its predecessor’s 0-60mph sprint time. Funnelling this power through all four wheels on the top-spec Leon Cupra 300 ST is a revised version of Seat’s 4Drive AWD system. This, combined with a super-responsive dual-clutch automatic gearbox, should ensure that the new Cupra 300’s bite is every bit as formidable as its bark.
Ride and handling aboard Seat’s hottest hatch is carefully regulated by a combination of familiar and new technologies. Dynamic chassis control works to minimise body roll and stiffen the suspension, whilst other standard gizmos such as progressive steering and a complementary self-locking differential promise to deliver a sizzling hot-hatch handling experience that’s up there with the best of them. Naturally, you won’t see the full benefit of this enhanced poise and cornering precision without unleashing the Leon Cupra 300’s inner beast – the CUPRA drive mode. This, the raciest of the new Leon’s four drive settings, throws comfort to the dogs and primes the Cupra 300 for an all-out track-attack.
For those more mundane, real world irritations the Leon Cupra 300 comes equipped with a plentiful array of driver assistance systems, from Traffic Jam and Lane Assist to Adaptive Cruise Control and Keyless Entry and Start. Inside, an integrated infotainment system is housed within a high-definition eight-inch screen. Meanwhile, a wireless smartphone charger and antenna amplifier for areas with low mobile and internet signal coverage are just two of the highlights that’ll have tech-lovers purring almost as loudly as the growl of the 2.0 litre engine.
Seat assures that pricing and spec for its new Cupra 300 range will be confirmed in due course, which essentially means sitting tight until just before the first models hit UK showrooms in March 2017.