Seat should be celebrating a perfect five out of five in this section. It’s not often we see a front-drive hot hatchback dip under the 6.0sec mark from 0-60mph.
The Leon 290’s 5.9sec two-way average to 60mph certainly puts clear air between its performance level and what’s possible in its current crop of competitors – Golf GTI, Focus ST and Astra VXR included. Seat quotes 5.8sec from 0-62mph for the manuals and 5.7sec for the DSG, so its real-world performance isn't far off the suggested pace.
For the better part of the hot hatch fraternity, that will be a big attraction – and credit to Seat for producing it. The annoyance here is that, if it had a half-decent launch control system, a better slip regulation system or a dual-clutch gearbox that made it easier to manage the loss of traction at those driven front wheels, the Leon would have gone even quicker.
Activated in Cupra mode, the launch system holds engine revs at just about 3000rpm before brutally dumping the clutch as you lift off the brake pedal. It’s awful. ‘Tyre smoke mode’ would be a better name for it.