Seat sharpens Cupra with Ultimate Sub8 Performance Pack

We applaud carmakers like Volkswagen for offering the Golf R in the United States and Ford for pledging to do the same with the new Focus RS. But as many hot hatches as we do get Stateside, there are even more that we don't. Like the Seat Leon Cupra, which was the first fastest front-driver ever to lap the Nürburgring in under 8 minutes. And it just keeps getting faster.

After Seat (briefly) stole the bragging rights from Renault back in March just ahead of the new Cupra's debut at the Geneva Motor Show last year, rumors immediately began to surface suggesting an even more extreme version was under consideration. VW's Spanish division subsequently released the Sub8 Performance Pack, and has now followed up with the even harder-core Ultimate Sub8 Performance Pack.

Like the penultimate version, the new package includes lightweight upgraded aero and 19-inch alloys (in either black or orange), wearing optional semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber and packing larger brakes with Brembo calipers. Where the Ultimate version departs is in its weight savings: Seat has ditched the air-con, half the speakers, the armrest and more to cut excess weight.

Seat isn't saying just how much weight the package cuts, or what performance advantage it brings, but it does say that the resulting hot hatch is the fastest production car it's ever made. Given that the model on which it's based already packs 276 horsepower and runs to 62 in as little as 5.7 seconds, we can imagine that the modified version will be even faster.

Best of all, Seat points out that, even with the ultimate package fitted, it still costs a good $10k less than the Renaultsport Mégane 275 Trophy-R that snagged back the bragging rights. Whether the Spanish automaker takes another stab at it with this lightened Cupra remains to be seen, but in any event we'll have to admire it from afar as Seat doesn't compete in the North American market, and isn't likely to anytime soon.
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- SEAT launches 'Ultimate Sub8 Performance Pack', priced at £4,200
- Comprehensive pack sports 30mm larger brakes with Brembo calipers, Michelin Sport Cup 2 tyres, body coloured side skirts, multi-spoke alloys in black or orange, plus series of weight reduction measures
- Exclusivity assured as each car built to order
- Undercuts closest rival, Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy-R, by up to £7,000

SEAT is all set to stir up the hot hatch brigade once again with the launch of a new 'Ultimate Sub8 Performance Pack'. Mirroring the exact specification of its creation which became the first front-wheel-drive production car to dip under the magic eight-minute Nürburgring Nordschleife lap time, the pack is set to cost £4,200.

Be under no illusions. A Leon SC CUPRA 280 fitted with the Ultimate Sub8 Performance Pack is no impractical trackday toy. It's every inch a proper hot hatch, just with an even more focused nature than the multi-award-winning Leon on which it's based. It's even got rear seats and a radio, DAB at that. Nevertheless, it'll still make a simple trundle to the shops, an occasion and not a chore, and garner plenty of attention along the way. Plus, given the fact that each car will be built to order, its exclusivity is assured.

Specifying the Ultimate Sub8 Performance Pack on a Leon SC CUPRA 280, costing £27,210 in manual guise, brings the price to £31,410. A sizeable £5,020 less than its closest direct rival, the two-seater Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy-R at £36,430. Or, closer to £7,000 by the time the latter's Performance Brake pack, electric door mirrors and satellite navigation extras are thrown into the equation.

Courtesy of some weight reduction trickery, the comprehensive pack swaps climate control for a simpler heating system, while even four of the CUPRA's usual eight speakers have been ditched in the dieting process. The weight loss programme has also seen the Leon CUPRA 280 slimmed down through the loss of the centre console armrest and rear air vents, while even the storage boxes under the front seat have been binned.

The rest of the pack is as per the standard Sub8 Performance Pack, which means lightweight multi-spoke 19-inch alloys in black or orange, 30mm larger brakes with Brembo callipers and body-coloured side skirts. Semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres can be included too for £460.

Keeping it extremely simple for customers, there's the usual choice of six-speed manual or slick-shifting DSG transmission, but, in keeping with its stripped back approach, no options.

As well as a supreme driving experience, it also retains another CUPRA hallmark, its high-end equipment features. Among them are DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) and CUPRA Drive Profile, providing the choice of Normal, Sport, CUPRA and Individual settings, to adjust the suspension, throttle sensitivity, gearbox and engine note, according to the whim of the driver's mood. There's also cruise control, rear parking sensors, touchscreen satellite navigation and tyre pressure monitor.

The Ultimate Sub8 Performance Pack can be specified now with all new Leon SC CUPRA 280 orders.

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