Flow the car through a few British bends and you’re greeted by what is arguably its métier. The steering rack has been quickened a touch just off centre and has a crisp levity to it, weighting up naturally and with a steely core that transmits, yes, some genuine feel. The narrow gauge of the rim (manufacturers of even far more expensive, potent machinery, please take note) and indulgently soft Alcantara upholstery that, I suspect, is the same as that used in the new Porsche 911 GT3 certainly help. Overall, it’s a fantastic, flickable helm.
Then there’s the engine. Rarely is the lump under the bonnet the most memorable aspect of a hot hatch, and that’s the case with the Cupra R, although for a four-cylinder workhorse, this one is absurdly talented.
Its peak torque of 280lb ft arrives at only 1800rpm and yet, somehow, that same level of twist is still flooding through the six-speed manual gearbox at 5700rpm. Too much of its character is dependent on exhaust tuning, but a more tractable, cultured four-pot you’ll not find in anything with five seats and boot.
It is a shame, then, that some of the basics – and the more nuanced complexities – are lacking. The seats are too high-set and, strangely, given the magnitude of the bolsters, flat across their backs. The throw of this manual ’box is decently short but giddily light. The brake pedal – quite beautifully positioned in relation to the others – feels too generously servo-assisted and, on its retuned adaptive dampers, the chassislacks the final pinch of pliancy that allows its exertions to fade from your thoughts.
Most telling, even in wet weather – as on the day of our photo shoot – the adjustability that bubbles up from within the best hot hatch exponents is lamentably absent, although the pace on offer is nothing short of spectacular. On British roads, the overall result is a peculiar device, and one that strongly hints at an uncompromised mission statement but ultimately delivers something of a movie punch.