Seat Leon Cupra on the Nürburgring

In case you haven't been paying attention, there's a battle raging on between two European automakers over who makes the faster hot hatch. The battle ground has been the Nürburgring, where Seat and Renault have been going back and forth, taking the front-drive lap record away from each other.

First Renault set the bar with the previous Mégane R26.R that set an 8:16.9 lap time in 2008, then reset it with the newer Mégane Trophy in 2011 at 8:07.9. Years later, Seat picked up the gauntlet and ran it across the finish line in 7:58.44 with the new Leon Cupra. Not happy letting the Spanish automaker steal its thunder, the French team returned to Eifel this past weekend with the new Mégane Trophy-R and set a new FWD lap record at 7:54.36, knocking over four seconds off of Seat's time.

The big question, then, is whether Seat is going to return to reclaim the bragging rights it stole from Renault in the first place. And the answer is: probably. According to Auto Express, Seat is already working on a lighter – if not necessarily more powerful – version of the Leon that could reclaim those four seconds it lost to Renault.

As it is, the Seat in question was no ordinary Leon: it was the Leon Cupra, with the higher 280-horsepower output and a performance pack with bigger brakes and wheels, more extreme aero and semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires. The package will soon be available to customers as well, thereby legitimizing Seat's previous claim.

Renault took things even farther with the Trophy-R, though. As it is, the new Mégane RS 275 Trophy has ten more horses than the previous version, along with a titanium exhaust, Ohlins dampers and those same Michelin tires. Then the Trophy-R stripped out the seats, fitted a pair of Recaro buckets and more.

Seat could, according to Auto Express, ditch the back seats from the Leon Cupra 280, strip out some excess weight and maybe even give it an extra 20 or so horsepower to really stick it to Renault. It only has to make up four or five seconds on an eight-minute lap, after all. One thing it is not considering, however, is all-wheel drive. For one thing, that's the purview of the VW Golf R that shares much of its oily bits with the Leon. For another, that would disqualify it from claiming the front-drive record anyway. One way or another, we doubt this will be the last we'll hear of this particular rivalry.