SEAT’s Leon Cupra 280, equipped with the DSG and the optional Performance Pack, has set a new front-wheel drive lap record of the Nürburgring with a time of 7 minutes 58.4 seconds. The previous record of 8 minutes 7.97 seconds was set by Renault’s Megane RS 265 Trophy in June 2011.
Honda went on record last year, stating their intention to become the top front-wheel drive car around the ‘ring with their 2015 Civic Type R, which will be powered by an engine delivering at least 276bhp. Manabu Nishimae, President of Honda Motor Europe, said at the time “We have recently spent a week at the Nürburgring, carrying out extensive testing and have already set a time approaching the lap record.. the all-new Type R will aim to become the fastest front-wheel-drive vehicle on the Nürburgring race course.”
Well it looks like they’ll have to set their sights a little higher.
SEAT’s President Jürgen Stackmann said at today’s Geneva motor show, “Our ultimate expression of the successful Leon formula is the all new Leon Cupra. It is the fastest and the most powerful car we have ever built and yet is a comfortable family car. The Cupra is our new icon.”
The one ‘fly-in-the-ointment’ regarding SEAT’s new record is the way in which it was set. Back in 2003, BMW’s 355bhp M3 CSL recorded a 7:50 lap on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres, much to the consternation of several rival brands, but at least these were ‘standard’ fitment on BMW’s limited-edition track car.
SEAT Performance Pack includes larger Brembo high-performance brakes, specially designed 19-inch alloy wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, which can account for between 5 and 10 seconds of a lap around Germany’s infamous 12.8 mile circuit.
Nevertheless, it’s the first front-wheel drive production car to dip below the eight-minute mark and sets the bar for Honda and (perhaps a few others) later this year.