The UK's motoring press delivers its verdict on the SEAT Leon Cupra 290, replacing the outgoing model with additional horsepower, more torque, a new sports exhaust and a number of style updates.
For hot hatch lovers, the SEAT Leon Cupra 280 was something of a revelation. It was a front-wheel-drive hatchback that could compete with some of the best hot-hatches on the market – while being more affordable. In the 290, the Spanish automaker has made the 280 even better.
Auto Car's Alan Taylor-Jones explained some of the 290's new features: "Helping performance and also generating a sportier sound is a new exhaust system. This boasts a lower backpressure than the previous pipework and is also 5.8kg lighter."
Taylor-Jones was also impressed by the equipment included in the car: "Rounding off the changes is Seat’s Full Link infotainment system that supports Mirrorlink, Android Auto and Apple Carplay."
For Top Gear's Tom Harrison, it's the 290's adrenaline-pumping power that ensures the updated model will be a hit:
"One of the Cupra’s strengths has always been the way it delivers its power: relentlessly, and without ever feeling like it’s about to run out of puff and we’re as impressed by the 290 as we were with the 280 when we first drove it... which was very."
Harrison also pointed out that the car was as well-suited to busy urban roads as it was to the motorway: "Civilized and capable, it’s as happy in full maniac mode as it is pootling along through town or down the motorway."
Giving the 290 a full five stars, Steve Sutcliffe of AutoExpress, said, "Another gem from SEAT, the Leon Cupra 290 is not just faster and more powerful than before but also better to drive. Despite it costing less than all the top line hot hatchbacks of the moment, it can level with most of them where it counts; on the road and it comes better equipped than many rivals to boot."
Sutcliffe also said the 290 compared well to the competition: "On the road, the 290 feels genuinely rapid, and because its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine now develops more torque over a broader rev range than before, it has that effortless edge to its performance that elevates it above most regular hot hatchbacks."
It's not all about performance, however. The Cupra offers a spacious interior and plenty of luggage capacity – making it a practical every day car, too. But it’s hard not to be intoxicated by this car's on-track pedigree: after all, the 280 has broken the lap record at Nurburgring, completing it in 7 mins and 58.44 secs.
Sutcliffe goes on: "It's real talent on the move… it's a soothing, almost grown up blend of noise and suspension refinement, allied to its very real sense of potent acceleration."
If the Leon Cupra 290 has tempted you with its exciting mix of high performance, handling and style, why not get behind the wheel of one yourself?
Book a test drive with Miller and Middleton, the first choice for new and used SEATs in Colchester and Braintree – and across the north of Essex and southern Suffolk.