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2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280 Tested: the Ultimate Family Car

We usually don’t condone attempts of various car makers at posting the best Nurburgring lap time ever recorded. Sure, it’s something people will brag about but it has little to no relevance in real life.
2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra 1 photo
Photo: Axel Griesinger
However, this competition between brands does help and it brings out bespoke models that are offering simply incredible levels of performance for the buck. One of the most obvious examples in this regard is the 2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280 that we just tested.

The whole thing came out due to a duel that the Spanish manufacturer had with Renault, both trying to come up with the fastest front-wheel car ever to lap the Nurburgring. In the end, that title went to the new Honda Civic Type R but the results of their clash will help the entire industry as a whole.

Under the bonnet of this car lies an all-familiar engine from the Volkswagen group, a 2-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged unit making (as the name suggests) 280 HP and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) of torque. Those figures allow the ST (which is the estate version of the Leon Cupra) to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6 seconds, 0.1 seconds faster when fitted with a DSG gearbox.

That’s might fast, especially for a front-wheel drive car and that’s also part of what makes this car the ultimate family car, as we claim above. That’s because this performance is available on an estate that also comes with 587 liters of luggage space with the seats up. Fold those seats and you get a cavernous 1,470 liters. That’s enough for diapers, baby strollers and so on.

Another part that makes this a tantalizing offer is the pricing. That’s because it undercuts the equivalent Golf GTI by some margin and yet it offers the same comfort, better performance, and an excellent overall package.

Last, but not least, the 2-liter mill under the bonnet is not as thirsty as you may expect. We saw 30 to 40 mpg (9.4 to 7.1 liters/100 km) on more than one occasion during our time with it, which may not be record breaking but we’re talking about a heavily turbocharged 2-liter petrol engine here after all.

Bottom line, the score we gave the 2015 SEAT Leon ST Cupra in our review is not accidental. It’s a great car that has the right price and only a handful of shortcomings. For those, you’ll have to check out the full test drive.
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