Seat Leon ST Cupra 280 Is The Fastest Estate At Nurburgring
Spanish automaker Seat recently announced that its Leon ST Cupra 280 wagon has lapped the Nurburgring in 7:58.12 minutes, making it the fastest estate ever to go round the infamous German race track. Not only did the five-door missile manage to trump the AWD, V-8-powered Audi B7 RS4 on its way to snatch the title, it also outpaced its lighter and shorter hot-hatch stablemate by a few fractions of a second, despite the three-door setting a new FWD record last year.
At the helm was Spanish racing driver and Seat spokesman Jordi Gene, who commented on the blistering time in a press release, saying: “It was an indescribable feeling to get the best out of this car and to be the first to achieve this record.”
To help him eke out every tenth, the Cupra was outfitted with the optional £2,025 ($3,190 at current exchange rates, 5/14/15) Sub8 Performance Pack, which adds larger Brembo brakes and 19-inch alloy wheels. Gummy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, a £460 ($725) option, were on hand for contact-patch duties. The wagon also benefitted heavily from its limited-slip front differential, which made the most of available traction offered from the front-wheel-drive layout.
“The Leon ST Cupra reinforces that an estate car doesn’t have to be a compromise,” said Dr. Matthias Rabe, Seat Vice President for Research and Development, in a press release, adding, “The [ST Cupra 280] is a sports car for the whole family.”
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Why it matters
While some out there are annoyed by the auto industry’s obsession with Nurburgring lap times, it’s hard to deny its utility as a performance benchmark. It’s true that optional packages (like semi-slick tires) and professional race drivers (like Gene) can be used to skew the results, and magic flying laps are not always easily repeatable, but at least a ‘Ring time gives us some general idea where a car will land when evaluating its speed potential.
Mere mortals like you and I may drool over the prospect of getting behind the wheel of a Nissan GT-R or Viper ACR, but making a wagon fast can be quite the interesting endeavor as well..
And personally, I find the times more useful for cars like the Cupra than mega-horsepower exotics. Mere mortals like you and I may drool over the prospect of getting behind the wheel of a Nissan GT-R or Viper ACR, but making a wagon fast can be quite the interesting endeavor as well. Enthusiasts the world over strive to turn their grocery-getters into track-assault vehicles, and Seat is capitalizing on this by bringing the Leon ST Cupra 280 to Austria for its world debut at this year’s Worthersee Treffen car show.
With an expected gathering of some 200,000 gearheads, the Worthersee show will host five Leon variants. Included will be an SC Cupra 280 decked out in the “Orange” Performance Pack, which adds visual flair via an orange grille, orange mirrors and orange wheels, all of which offset a Dynamic Grey paint job. Also on display will be the Black Line package, which adds new door sills, rear side spoilers, and high-gloss black 19-inch wheels. Finally, Austrian racing driver Mario Dablander will make an appearance alongside his Leon Cup race car.
One final word on the wagon’s time. You might be scratching your head trying to figure out how it managed to oust Seat’s smaller and lighter three-door. Apparently, the answer lies in aerodynamics and balance, as Gene explained to Top Gear in an interview: “In high speed corners the ST rear axle is more progressive, and the top speed is higher with the better drag coefficient. What we lose exiting some corners we get it back in high-speed turns and on the straights,” he said. “With the longer body here we can play with the rear end, to help position the car. It is a very nice racing feeling when you disconnect the ESC.”
While unfortunately denied to those of us stateside, the Leon ST Cupra 280 should provide a good deal of entertainment to Europeans looking for a heady blend of speed and practicality. These two attributes come courtesy of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine up front and up to 52 cubic-feet of storage room in the back. Output is measured at 276 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is routed through either a six-speed manual or DSG transmission. A sprint to 60 mph takes around six seconds flat, while top speed is electronically limited to 150 mph. Despite the performance, this dual-purpose five-door still manages to get 35 mpg.
Read our full review here.