The SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280 is the fastest estate around the Nurburgring Nordschleife, setting a time of 7:58.1.

That also makes it faster than the three-door Leon SC Cupra 280, the first front-wheel-drive car to dip under eight minutes, thanks to better aerodynamics.

But that time is only useful for bragging rights. The vast majority of people who buy the Leon ST Cupra won’t even go to the Nurburgring, much less match the lap time. No, the vast majority will buy one because it’s a practical family car that happens to be just brilliant to drive.

The 2.0-litre, turbocharged engine serves up 276bhp and 258lb/ft of torque, which is a lot for a small-capacity motor. Yet there is barely a trace of lag as you floor the throttle and a suitably meaty mid-range that makes overtaking a doddle.

The car tested here came with the standard six-speed manual gearbox; a six-speed DSG is available as an option, but I would stick with the, err, stick. It shifts slickly and the extra involvement really does add something to the experience.

The chassis is just as good as that lap time suggests. You can lob into any corner as fast as you like and it just tracks round like it’s on rails. The weight of the extra metalwork seems to help stability on turn-in, though the mass will start to start rotate round if you get silly.

Perhaps more importantly the ride is supple – despite the size of the wheels – so you can actually exploit the power and chassis on real roads. I wouldn’t be surprised if its the fastest FWD car point-to-point there is.

The Leon ST Cupra looks good inside and out – I can live without the orange detailing on this car – there’s a lot of space and, at £29,000, it’s good value. Though it is within touching distance of the Golf R estate which is more powerful and has four-wheel-drive. That’s going to be a very interesting comparison.

SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280

Price: £29,205

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol

Transmission: 6-speed manual (6-spd DSG dual-clutch optional); front-wheel-drive

Power/Torque: 276bhp; 258lb/ft

Economy/Emissions: 42.2mpg; 157g/km

0-62mph: 6.1 seconds

Top speed: 155mph

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By Only Motors

Quick Spin: SEAT Leon ST Cupra 280
Performance86%
Handling & Ride90%
Design76%
Space & Safety84%
Value for Money81%
Gadgets71%
The Positives
  • Very fast
  • Pin-point handling
  • Strong value
The Negatives
  • Gaudy orange details
  • Austere interior
  • That's your lot
81%Overall Score
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