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The Seat Leon Cupra now packs a mighty 286bhp
New ‘290’ spec see Spain’s stealthy hot hatch up its power to new and absurd levels
With fast-hatch manufacturers on a constant quest to gazump rivals, over the last year we’ve seen a new trend of dropping strategically-timed horsepower upgrades in order to stay ahead of the competition.
This is Seat’s answer, the new Cupra 290: the fastest and most powerful Leon in the history of ever.
Thanks to a 10bhp boost over the 280 model, power now weighs in at wholesome 286bhp – not far off Golf R levels.
Want some numbers? The Cupra 290 will crack 0-62 mph in just 5.7 seconds with the double clutch ‘box specced, or 5.8 seconds if you’re a dexterous purist and would like a manual.
Top speed is limited to 155mph, but if you’ve got nitrogen-filled feet and no inclination to get somewhere quickly, you’ll apparently return 42.2mpg. Which you never will. Because you’ve just bought a rapid hot hatch.
But Seat didn’t just treat the Cupra 290 to a cheeky power upgrade. The Spanish firm seemingly also had a grubby rummage around it the VW Group’s parts bin, pilfering the Golf GTI’s Performance Pack trick diff.
It’s an electro-hydraulic set-up that can offer 100 per cent of power to one wheel, effectively using half of the multiplate coupling of VW’s Haldex system.
The aim is to reduce steering angle, offer more precise handling and increase cornering velocity, while firing you out of a silly speeds on the other end. On the GTI, VW claims the Performance Pack diff makes the car eight seconds faster round the Nordschleife. We’d expect similar improvements for the Cupra.
But if you want to make your 290 even more serious, you’ll want to spec the ‘Sub8 Performance Pack’.
That bundle includes a set of bigger Brembo brakes, bigger wheels and sticky Michelin tyres. You’ll also be able turn the traction control completely off in the Cupra – something you can’t do in a Golf GTI. But only if you’ve swallowed your brave pill.
The 290 is set to go on sale in the UK towards the end of this year, but we’ll see it for the first time when it makes its public debut at next week’s Frankfurt motor show.
This or a Performance Pack-equipped Golf GTI?