Long term report: Seat Leon Cupra 280

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Seat Leon Cupras
Blackball Media

If you haven't noticed that our long-term Cupra 280 five-door hatch is a firm favourite of all those at AOL Cars, then you really haven't been paying attention. It's fair to say that, apart from the Volvo XC70, no other car has earned such affection.

But the car we have is the highest spec, loudest and lairiest version. Seat told me this month there is so much more to the Cupra range than this hairy-chested brute.

Step forward this car's more polite and socially acceptable brother – the Cupra 265. Yes, by those very numbers, it's clear to see the 265 has 15 less brake horse power. And the car that arrived on a hot Monday morning was a three-door with a six-speed manual gearbox. And it couldn't have been any more different from our white charger.

While our Cupra sometimes feels far too fast and accomplished, the 265 is a more pleasant and rewarding car to drive. You can press on through corners a little more and it's far more grippy. Couple this with a manual shifter and the Cupra 265 delivers driving thrills the 280 can only dream of.

While our white Cupra is fun in an impressive way, the simpler 265 is more traditional in the way it serves up the spoils. It's just a shame it lacks the visual clout of the 280 – it's bereft of massive brakes, snazzy wheels and subtle meanness the 280 pulls off so well.

The knowledge

Model: Seat Leon Cupra 280
Price: £30,735 (as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol
Power: 276bhp, 350Nm
Max speed: 155mph
0-60mph: 5.7s
Emissions: 149g/km
Mileage this month: 2,148

This month's highlight

Knowing that the 280 is still top dog, and that while it's not as fun as a 265, it's the better car