276 horsepower, 0-62 in 6 seconds flat and 52 cubic feet of cargo space: that's what's in store for the European market at the Geneva Motor Show this year in the wagon form of Seat's Nürburgring-chomping hot hatch.
European hatchbacks tend to be as much about style as they are about substance. For proof, look no further to the fashion collaborations that have given us the Fiat 500 Gucci edition, the Citroën DS3 by Yves Saint Laurent and a seemingly endless stream of one-off Minis done up by various fashion designers for charity. Even the pint-sized Mii – Seat's version of the Volkswagen Up! – has bred a special edition by Spanish clothing label Mango. But the example you see here takes the
Attending European auto shows like this week's Paris expo always makes me kind of jealous of the things offered in other markets. Funny little MPVs, hot hatches of all shapes and sizes, and just generally weird stuff are plentiful here, but we'd never, ever see these things in the States. And among the wares not often found in our market that are of particular interest, to me, are lifted wagons, like the new Seat Leon X-Perience on display here.
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 the market for a Volkswagen Golf but don't actually want a Volkswagen Golf? If you live in North America, your choices are limited to the Golf or, if you've got the scratch, the outgoing Audi A3. But if you live overseas, you can also opt for the Skoda Octavia or Seat Leon, which open up a whole array of possibilities. And this is the latest.
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.
More automakers need events like the annual Wörthersee Treffen in Austria from Volkswagen Group. It offers a chance for the automotive giant's designers to go wild and create one-offs that wouldn't get made otherwise. This year Audi has its 525-horsepower A3 Clubsport Quattro for the show, and this quirky Ibiza Cupster is the creation of Seat.
If you're traveling overseas and happen upon a Seat showroom, you can expect to see a lot of lift-gates. You'll see them on city cars, hatchbacks, wagons and minivans, but with the sole exception of the rebadged old Audi A4 they call the Exeo – which is available as either a sedan or, again, as a wagon – they've all got hatches at the back, not trunks. The one thing it's been missing is an SUV or crossover, but that's just what the Spanish automaker has in the works.
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.
In 2010, automotive supplier Faurecia showed off a car seat that, via Bluetooth communication with a smartphone app, would adjust itself based on information the occupant had entered. It looks like that was too much work for a busy executive to do, because Automotive News has a story on how that seat has progressed, and it's now almost fully automatic.
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.
Volkswagen is staging a massive, worldwide recall that's already grown from 1.68 million to 2.64 million vehicles and covers three different issues across a number of vehicles. We already reported on 61,000 Tiguans getting recalled over lighting issues - that was just in the US. Globally, however, VW will be recalling 800,000 Tiguans, according to Automotive News, with the focus on CUVs built between 2008 and 2011. The issue with the Tiguan relates to a simple fuse swap, so this is rather unrema
There's nothing like the yearly reminder of the Frankfurt Motor Show to put our wagon jealousy into top gear. Be they from Alpina, Honda, Opel or Volkswagen; Europeans have access to long-roof rides that we only get to sample with a plane ticket and a Hertz Club Gold card.
Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo, otherwise known as Seat, started becoming a part of the Volkswagen universe of companies way back in June of 1983, and it has taken right up until its latest generation of models for all the benefits of the VW Group empire to come to bear. Prior to the past couple of years, Seats have continued being built and sold passably well with a healthy enough rapport with VW, but the full tech swap and nod of faith had never totally happened yet
In the 'Just Because It's Awesome' category we have the Seat Leon Cup Racer, a kerb-stomping trinket the Spanish brand took to the GTI Wörthersee gathering. A transformation worthy of Marvel turns the recognizable five-door hatch underneath into a test-bed for a 325-horsepower sprint or endurance racer, depending on which version a customer prefers, and Seat "can envision" a 1.6-liter motor so it can contest World Touring Car championships.
Almost four years ago Seat got a new CEO, James Muir, tasked with the job of creating a sustainably profitable division out of Volkswagen's Spanish brand. Three years ago Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn publicly explained that the home of the Ibiza was getting its last chance, but Muir and a healthy shot of new investment and new product worked like a trick: 18 months later Winterkorn publicly stated his pleasure at Seat's continuing turnaround, and earlier this month Muir was talking up the br