Seat Leon Cupra is the new front-drive King of the Ring [w/video]

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We know you might be thinking that this is just another Volkswagen Golf clone. But what you're actually looking at is the new King of the Ring.

That is, as far as hot hatches go. Because here in Geneva, VW's Spanish subsidiary Seat has confirmed what we reported a couple of days ago: that the Leon Cupra has taken the new lap record for front-drive production cars at the Nürburging. The Cupra 280 equipped with the new Performance Pack clocked a time of 7:58.4, making it not only the quickest front-driver ever to lap the vaunted Nordschleife, but also the first to crack the eight-minute barrier.

Based on the same MQB architecture as the Golf, the amped-up Cupra version of the new Leon packs a 2.0-liter turbo four available with either 261 or 276 horsepower, with three doors or five, and with a six-speed manual or DCT. Unfortunately we don't get any of these versions in North America – where we'll just have to settle for the more powerful VW Golf R – but you can scope it out in the gallery of live images above. Oh, you can also see what happens when you connect that Cupra 280 engine to a washing machine in the video below.
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Leon CUPRA sets new Nürburgring record

Geneva, 04/03/2014. - SEAT presented its 'Leon CUPRA Performance Pack' at the Geneva Motor Show today. The Leon CUPRA has already proven its incredibly sporty performance on the Nürburgring, the world's most demanding race track. It lapped the famous Nordschleife circuit in a time of 7:58.4 minutes, beating the previous best time for front-wheel-drive vehicles by around ten seconds. The thorough, painstaking work done at the German circuit has been applied by SEAT to its series-production model, another of the brand's attractions at the Geneva Motor Show, where its performance, compelling design, everyday usefulness and top-quality places it in a class of its own.

The Spanish brand is also putting the new Leon Cup Racer on show at Geneva, the competition vehicle developed and built by SEAT Sport, and which will be the major player in the Leon Eurocup, to begin in May. Another attraction on the SEAT stand is the new Mii by MANGO, a fashion edition city slicker created in collaboration with the design label MANGO, present in 104 countries around the world.

SEAT is currently demonstrating impressive performance in its sales figures. With 355,000 vehicles delivered worldwide, the Spanish manufacturer achieved growth of 10.6% in 2013, in a market that shrank by 1.8% in Europe. In Germany, for instance, SEAT achieved a market share of 2.8% following growth of over 22%, placing it in the top ten. In United Kingdom, registrations of the brand increased around 17% and close to 8% in its home market of Spain. The new Leon family made a major contribution to this success. No less than 102,000 new SEAT Leon were marketed in 2013, 44% more than in the previous year.

"SEAT clearly has positive sales momentum. The new Leon family is a key contributor to this growth. We are about to create a second strong pillar of business next to the Ibiza family. We expect to continue this success with the new Leon ST launched in the past months. First customer reaction is very positive, with over 20,000 factory orders already since launch period. We have momentum and plan to continue our growth path in 2014," states Jürgen Stackmann, President of SEAT S.A. "SEAT is a young spirited brand made in Barcelona. This young spirit is defined by two dimensions: we are design driven and we are dynamic. Our ultimate expression of the successful Leon formula is the all new Leon CUPRA. It is the fastest and the most powerful car we have ever built and yet is a comfortable family car. The CUPRA is our new icon."

State-of-the-art technology and stunning design, coupled with compelling performance and perfect everyday usability – the new Leon CUPRA embodies SEAT's brand values in the best possible way. With up to 206 kW / 280 PS, the new CUPRA is not only the clear top model in the exceptionally successful Leon family, it is also the brand's most powerful ever series-production car. And the fastest, too. The Leon CUPRA's drive and chassis guarantee precision driving fun of the highest order. With its extensive equipment and excellent quality, the new CUPRA represents exceptionally good value-for-money. This new sports icon from the SEAT range is offered for the first time as a five-door and as the Leon three-door Sport Coupé.

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