When I got my hands on the Seat Cupra 280, the test car was just eight weeks old – and already had nearly 6,500km on the clock – I knew it must be good.
The Cupra was the first hot hatch I had ever driven and so holds a special place in my heart. It’s always a car I look forward to, and with good reason – it’s quite excellent.
The racing variant of the Seat Leon hatchback, the Cupra is ‘normal’ enough looking for everyday use.
Sitting slightly lower to the ground, the grille and Cupra badge were the only real giveaways as to what lies underneath the bonnet in our five-door test car.
Inside, the cabin has very snazzy looking bucket seats for four adult passengers, upholstered in suede and leather with a white reflective trim. There’s also mood lighting on the front doors, which changes depending on the drive mode.
While it is a five seater, just two adults would be more comfortable in the back. The middle rear seat is not of the sports variety.
Legroom is great both back and front and the boot is a decent size. The rear seats can also fold for extra boot space. That’s easy to do, but the seats don’t lie flat.
Storage in this car isn’t great. The glove compartment is quite small and there’s a covered storage box between the front seats, but it’s tiny.
There are two decent sized cup holders between the front seats though and a handy shelf at the bottom of the centre console.
Bottles don’t stand upright in door bins, however, which is a bugbear of mine.
Better news on the infotainment front, the Cupra has a great sound system. It’s easy to pair your phone with it, and to stream music. The car also reminds you to take your phone with you when you turn off the engine.
Nice and all as the cabin is, the real selling point for this car is the engine – and it doesn’t disappoint.
The test car was fitted with an excellent DSG automatic gearbox (with paddles and automatic gear stick), and a manual handbrake.
Gear changes in pure automatic mode are seamless (but you can hear the kick in the engine).
However, for more control there are shift paddles on the steering wheel or the automatic gear stick. I’m generally not a fan of the paddles but I did like the gear stick.
The Seat Cupra 280 is a great car to drive. We took it around the city, up the mountains, on winding country roads and on the motorway.
There are four drive modes to choose from – Comfort, Sport, Cupra and Individual, with a different engine soundtrack with each.
Handling is great, the car is very planted, and it goes exactly where you want it to. Suspension is a little on the hard side though, so you do feel bumps on the road.
The Cupra 280 is a fast car in all drive modes but the exhilaration you feel from a 0-120kph sprint in Cupra mode is fantastic.
While not the most fuel efficient car, the Cupra is practical. With five doors, comfortable seats and a decent sized boot, this fast car is excellent to drive and ‘normal’ enough looking that you can bring it anywhere.
The Seat Leon Cupra is available now, with 5D prices starting from €33,895. Prices for the car I was driving start from €37,480
Engine: 2.0 TSI 280hp DSG-6 Start-Stop
Acceleration: 0-100kph in 5.8seconds
Maximum Speed: 250kph
CO2 emissions: 149g/km
Combined fuel economy: 6.6l/100km
Annual road tax: €390