If you listen carefully you may be able to hear a few fists banging on desks in frustration, along with the occasional cry of ‘Zut alors! Merde!!’. That’s the sound of the Renaultsport engineers waking up to discover that they no longer hold the record for the fastest lap of the Nurburgring Nordschleife by a front-wheel drive production car.
The Renaultsport Megane 265 Trophy was the holder of the record with a time of 8:07.97. That’s just been blown away by the new SEAT Leon Cupra, which crossed the line in 7:58.4, the first time a production-spec FWD car has broken through the eight-minute barrier.
Spanish driver Jordi Gené, former SEAT driver ETCC and WTCC driver, set an average speed of 96mph on the record-breaking lap, with a top speed of 150 mph on the Tiergarten section of the circuit. Gené was also part of the team who helped to develop the new Cupra.
The car that set the record was a Leon Cupra 280 fitted with the optional Performance Pack. This adds Brembo high-performance brakes, specially designed 19-inch alloy wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. Sadly the Performance Pack isn’t yet available to order in the UK but should be by the summer.
How long can SEAT hold onto this record? Previous holders, Renault, certainly won’t take this challenge lightly. Honda have already stated their aim to set a record with their new Civic Type R but now they’ll have to work even harder to do it. Then there’s the Vauxhall Astra VXR EXTREME, a road car that borrows a lot from the Astra Cup race car. If it went into production it could pose a serious threat to SEAT’s time.
One thing’s for sure. Hot hatches will be a regular sight at this year’s ‘Ring testing sessions.
Have you got 7 minutes and fifty-eight seconds to spare? Here’s the full lap.