SEAT Leon Cupra 290

Celebrating their 20 year anniversary, SEAT have taken their Leon Cupra 280 hot hatchback and made it even hotter. Now with extra power, improved handling and the same aggressive aesthetics as the 280, we introduce to you the SEAT Leon Cupra 290.

Continuing their line of excellent hot hatchbacks and celebrating their 20th anniversary, SEAT have recently unveiled the new SEAT Leon Cupra 290. Replacing the brilliant SEAT Leon Cupra 280, this new hot hatch features boosted power, further sports upgrades and two transmission options. Offering both comfort as a daily driver and the ability to attack the Peak District, the Leon Cupra 290 once again brings both practicality and driving enjoyment to the table. 

As is suggested by the name change, the Leon Cupra 290 now features an additional 10bhp over its predecessor – meaning a very respectable 286bhp is now at the disposal of your right foot. 

Power comes from the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as the previous car but now takes the Leon Cupra 290 from 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds when fitted with the manual transmission (choosing the superb double clutch DSG transmission will knock a tenth of a second off this time) and up to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

Further building upon already improved performance, SEAT also offers an optional Sub8 Performance Pack. When specified, the Sub8 Performance Pack helps to reduce weight by removing some of the speakers and the air conditioning system, as well as offering new 19-inch wheels – in black or orange – laced with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres and uprated Brembo brakes for additional stopping power.

Regardless of which six-speed transmission is specified, all of the power is fed to the front wheels through a clever electronic limited-slip differential that works in sync with the Leon Cupra 290’s electronic handling aids. Also found on the sensational Golf GTi, the ingenious system helps to reduce torque steer by sending anywhere up to 100% of the engine’s power to the appropriate wheel.

As with the previous car, SEAT’s Cupra Drive Profile system is present, subsequently offering the driver three different driving modes – Comfort, Sport and Cupra. Each mode adjusts the car respectively, slowly tuning the drivetrain, steering, adaptive dampers and differential to become more and more aggressive as you cycle through the modes. Further to this, there’s the additional ‘Individual’ mode that allows the driver to adjust each element to their choosing, in turn tailoring the Leon Cupra 290 to their own particular driving style.

Due to the fastidious tuning and performance upgrades, SEAT have managed to create a car that carries speed unlike almost anything else. It has been noted by journalists, time-and-time again, that relying on the optional Cup 2 tyres and Cupra mode, you can find yourself utilising all of the 286bhp when logic denotes that you shouldn’t.

That being said, excitement from the Leon Cupra 290 doesn’t require you to be flatout at all times; instead, the joy of a car like this is the ability to safely exploit its limits at almost any speed. Offering heaps of excitement, the Leon Cupra 290 utilises that synergy between clever differential and electronic driving aids to create a predictable drive that doesn’t dilute the driving experience in any way.

Written by Dan Jones | 23.09.16

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