Seat has recently made a lot of noise about the fact that the Leon Cupra 290 (albeit fitted with an optional Performance Pack that you can’t specify here at the moment) is the quickest hot hatch ever around the Nürburgring.
Such feats can lead to chassis tuning that is damnably uncomfortable when you’re not properly on it. Thankfully, the Cupra’s isn’t; the lap time seems to have been a by-product rather than the objective itself.
Don’t misunderstand us, though: the 290 is firm enough, all right, with less compliance than there is in a Golf GTI or a Focus ST, but more, say, than in a Renaultsport-fettled Mégane. The 265, benefitting from smaller wheels, tips the balance back the other way, although with cheaper rubber fitted as standard, it does tend to lose traction a fraction earlier.
The Leon features the same variable-ratio steering rack as the Golf GTI – which means it’s slower at the straight-ahead and speeds up as you wind on lock – but it doesn’t work quite as well here, feeling less natural and offering less feel than the Volkswagen version.
That the wheel is quite light doesn’t always do it a favour, either. It means there’s no effort in flicking through a direction change from one side to the other, but if at the same time you’re looking for signals about what’s happening, you’ll have to look hard.