Volkswagen Golf R vs SEAT Leon Cupra video track battle

The powerful new Volkwagen Golf R takes on the SEAT Leon Cupra 280 on track

With snazzy looks, four-wheel drive and just shy of 300bhp, the new Volkswagen Golf R is the pinnacle of the massive Golf range. But is it the best hot hatch in the VW Group stable?

To find out, we brought along the new SEAT Leon Cupra 280, which has just taken the fastest ever lap time around the Nurburgring for a front-wheel drive car, for an Auto Express track battle.

The most powerful production Golf ever made, the new Golf R costs £31,970 if you choose the DSG gearbox and five-door body. It gets 296bhp and 380Nm of torque from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, and has four-wheel drive to put all the power on the road.

Lighter and cheaper than the Golf, the SEAT Leon Cupra is only front-wheel drive, but it has similar underpinnings and the same engine. It develops 276bhp and 350Nm of torque. Like the Golf, this car is fitted with the DSG dual-clutch gearbox.

Stable and powerful, the Golf R performed well around our circuit, recording a lap time of 1.14.8 seconds. However, the sharper and more agile SEAT recorded a lap time of 1.13.9 seconds.

So which car comes out on top in our hot hatch head-to-head? Well, it's a bit expensive, but we really like the Golf R. It's a great road car - it's fast, upmarket and composed. But on the track the SEAT Leon Cupra may only be front-wheel drive, but it has almost as much traction, it's much more agile and it's faster against the stopwatch.

Crucially it's nearly £4,000 cheaper, so in this head-to-head track battle it's the SEAT Leon Cupra that takes victory.

Recommended

2021 Volkswagen Golf R Estate spied testing at Nürburgring
Volkswagen Golf R estate spy - front
Volkswagen Golf R

2021 Volkswagen Golf R Estate spied testing at Nürburgring

Hot VW Golf R Estate on sale shortly with more aggressive styling and 316bhp
23 Mar 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Volkswagen Golf R
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Volkswagen Golf R - front
Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Volkswagen Golf R

We bring the fastest versions of the Volkswagen Golf Mk8 together to find the best performance variant
17 Mar 2021
New 316bhp Volkswagen Golf R on sale from £39,270
Volkswagen Golf R

New 316bhp Volkswagen Golf R on sale from £39,270

Mk8 edition of the Volkswagen Golf R is on sale now, and out-muscles its closest rivals with 316bhp and 420Nm
3 Dec 2020
Volkswagen Golf R review
Volkswagen Golf R 2017 corner
Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R review

When a regular Golf GTI isn’t sufficiently extreme, the VW Golf R steps up to the mark
20 Apr 2020

Most Popular

'Nissan has been quietly building an advantage over electric car rivals'
Opinion Nissan EV
Nissan

'Nissan has been quietly building an advantage over electric car rivals'

Steve Fowler thinks Nissan is in a great position to build on the Leaf's success
8 Apr 2021
Nissan to launch new Juke-sized electric car
Nissan Juke EV - front (watermarked)
Nissan Juke

Nissan to launch new Juke-sized electric car

The new Nissan Juke-sized electric car will sit below the Ariya, and our exclusive images preview how it could look
8 Apr 2021
New 2021 Kia EV6: UK prices and specifications confirmed
Kia EV6 - front
Kia EV6

New 2021 Kia EV6: UK prices and specifications confirmed

The new all-electric Kia EV6 gets two batteries, 4WD and even a rapid sporty GT version. Prices start from £40,895
30 Mar 2021