Under 8. That's the new benchmark for hot hatches, expressed in the number of minutes it takes to get around the Nürburgring. Although Renault has since beat its time with the Mégane RS 275 Trophy, it was Seat that was the first to break that time in a front-drive car with the Leon Cupra 280. Critics pointed out that the record-setting car was equipped with certain add-ons over the production version, but now Seat is offering those upgrades to customers as part of a new package.
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.
Crashes in racing are expected to happen at high speed with two drivers challenging each other to be the first one into a corner. They are not, however, supposed to happen like this. The poor Seat Leon Cupra racecar here goes out in the most humiliating way possible – a combination of gravity and human error.
Racing simulators have come a long way in recent years. As computers have gotten quicker, developers have been able to create more sophisticated models that practically bring real-world driving to the screen. Volkswagen's Spanish brand, Seat, has harnessed a bit of this cutting-edge tech to give its fans an all-too-real taste of the new Leon Cupra a few weeks before the car begins deliveries in Europe.
While Porsche and McLaren vie for sub-seven-minute lap records at the Nürburgring, there's another hotly contested category, and it's not for the fastest time of any vehicle. It applies specifically to front-wheel-drive cars, and is contested between European hot hatches.
Volkswagen is keen to position its Seat brand as the Spanish alternative to Alfa Romeo. That's pretty hard to do when Alfa (occasionally) gives us sports cars like the 4C and 8C, and Seat gives us... rebadged Volkswagen minivans and old Audi sedans. But the new Leon Cupra is here to change that.
We brought you initial pics and details last week, and today, SEAT made it all official in London where factory Touring Car drivers James Thompson (WTCC) and Jason Plato (BTCC) pulled the checkered cover off the all-new Leon Cupra.
The new SEAT Leon Cupra has broken cover, and it's a looker. Powered by a 2.0T FSI making in excess of 240 horsepower, the new Cupra makes the run to 62 mph in 6.4 seconds. Visually, it's enough to make you wish SEAT was available here in the States -- something that will never happen because the brand would cannibalize VW and Audi sales in a big way.
On July 18 at the British International Motor Show, VW-owned Spanish automaker SEAT will unveil the new Leon Cupra for the very first time. The company's smartly-styled hatchbacks are always a visual treat, and this one should be no exception.
Autoblog Spanish has full coverage of the debut of SEAT's new competitor in the hot hatch wars, the Leon FR, courtesy of our man in Madrid, Alberto Ballestin. We're posting a few of his live shots here, the full set of pics is online here.