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The SEAT Leon ST CUPRA 280 proves a performance car can be the right choice for you and your family

We gave Auto Express reader John Bauer the keys to a 280hp SEAT Leon ST CUPRA 280 for two weeks. Here’s how he got on…

Fast, fun and practical was the verdict when Auto Express reader John Bauer was given the opportunity to run a SEAT Leon ST CUPRA 280 for a fortnight. That’s high praise for a man who currently drives an upmarket rear-wheel drive executive estate, but we were confident the SEAT Leon ST CUPRA 280 was more than up to the job.

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Any doubt in John’s mind disappeared when he saw the SEAT Leon ST CUPRA 280’s handsome styling and sampled the car’s huge performance. The 280hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine has been designed to put smile on the driver’s face, and the chassis has been set up to make sure that smile stays there.

Plus you get the added bonus of a huge 587-litre boot for all of your family needs. “We’ve enjoyed lots of days out visiting friends and the sightseeing,” said John. “And we haven’t had to worry whether everything will fit in the back. What’s even better is that the back seats fold easily, thanks to two levers in the boot.” This creates 1,470 litres of boot space, while the false boot floor means you can create a level area, which makes loading bulky items a breeze.

But it’s the way the SEAT Leon ST CUPRA 280 performs that really sets it apart. It’s one of those cars that urges you to drive just for the fun of it. To make the most of its performance, SEAT arranged for John to have some special one-on-one track tuition with instructor and former touring car star Karl Jones.

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Karl showed John the Drive Profile button on the dash, which switches between Comfort, Sport, CUPRA and Individual modes. The CUPRA setting delivers the most focused driving experience, with faster throttle response and steering, while the limited-slip diff is tuned to deliver better traction out of corners, and the standard Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers all but eliminate body roll. 

And John came away suitably impressed. He told us: “It feels really safe on the road, and it’s not going to pull any surprises on you. It’s sure-footed and feels wonderful. I’m used to automatic and rear-wheel drive premium executive cars, but this is as good as one of those.”

But what really impressed John was how easy the SEAT Leon ST CUPRA 280 is when you’re driving at normal speeds. “It’s just so well behaved and practical for everyday life,” he said. “I’ve got two children and a wife and we’ve gone shopping, been sightseeing and away visiting relatives and it’s done everything marvelously. The load space is flat and wide and you can get your bags and prams in easily. It’s great.”

“The car I had came in Monsoon Grey with the £500 optional CUPRA Orange Line wheel and trim highlights, which really helped the SEAT Leon ST CUPRA 280 to turn heads. The looks are very striking, and I’ve only had positive responses”

So two weeks with the SEAT Leon ST CUPRA 280 opened John’s eyes to the appeal of a hot estate. “If I was going to buy a sports car, it would be a selfish decision,” he said. “But the SEAT Leon ST CUPRA 280 is so practical and easy to get along with that it’s a selfish purchase that my family wouldn’t mind me making!”

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