This is the new, 280 PS Seat Leon Cupra.
Seat claims it's the fastest FWD car on the Nrburgring ever.
Its performance is hardly noticable from the outside.
It looks about the same as a Leon FR.
It's not an eye-catcher, where its competitors are.
At the left, this bright red Mgane RS
And at the right, a very blue Opel Astra OPC.
Wide wheel arches and bright colors make these cars more appealing,
but let's take a look at what's underneath the bodywork.
The Mgane RS is the oldest car of the 3, but still the benchmark.
I'll try to explain why.
It's not the 265 PS 2-litre engine that makes it the best.
Sure, it makes the car fast and sounds nice,
but it's not as spectacular as for instance the Astra OPC.
It's the suspension that makes it so special.
This car has the optional 'cup-chassis', making it very firm.
It's completely focused on fast cornering.
The steering is very sensitive,
and its possible to 'steer' with the back end as well.
It gives you the feeling you're dancing through the corners.
The front, thanks to it's locking differential, has lots of grip.
Driving is very exciting, it feels like the perfect FWD-car.
The Leon Cupra doesn't feel as perfect as the Renault.
It's easier to drive, but also more artificial.
The suspension is adjustable,
so it can be comfortable and sporty.
Even in the toughest setting, 'Cupra', it isn't very firm.
So it isn't as sharp as the Mgane.
It's FWD is more noticable, everything happens at the front.
At turn-in, the locking diff gives a lot of grip.
but you can't play with the back end of the car.
This is a bit less exciting, but a bit safer as well.
It's easy to really use the 280 PS it delivers.
The engine is impressive and accessible at the same time.
It deliveres all it's power from 3500 RPM, a very wide powerband
This makes it feel more powerful than the Mgane,
But it's less surprising. Again: less exciting, more accessible.
It's very allround.
This is by far the most distinctive car of the three.
Not only concerning the looks, but also the sound.
It sounds like a turbine whistle, apparently from the glovebox.
The noise gives it character, but you have to get used to it.
Most power is delivered between 4000 and 6000 RPM.
At lower revs, its acceptable, higher up nothing happens.
Shifting gear to keep it in the right range, isn't very pleasant.
The clutch is very heavy, the gearbox isn't very smooth.
That's a shame.
The suspension is very good: right between Seat and Renault.
In the toughest setting, it has only a little bit of body roll.
It's quite heavy, but corners very well.
Just like the others, the locking diff gives lots of grip.
The steering is a bit artificial and vague.
This could be better.
In the 'OPC' setting, the car is at its best.
Then steering and throttle response are as direct as it gets.
Of the 3 cars, this looks and sounds best.
It's a statement, the car equivalent of happy hardcore.
This car is great fun to drive.
3 hot hatches with up to 260 PS and FWD with a locking diff
It sounds the same, but there's a lot of difference.
The Astra OPC is a party animal,
It's very exuberant, a bit less refined, but a lot of fun.
But it costs 44.000 euro, a lot of money.
The Leon Cupra is almost 10.000 euro less expensive.
It's more usable too, more comfortable.
The 280 PS make it quite exciting at the same time.
However, if you want the most exciting, hardcore car...
the Mgane RS is your car.