The Volkswagen Audi group or VAG now have a huge range of vehicles across many brands in including Porsche and Bugatti.
However today attention is focused on the mainstay brands of the VAG namely, VW, Seat, Skoda and Audi.
All of these brands have been experiencing growth of late as they continue to launch fresh new models to compete with their rivals.
In the luxury segment Audi Ireland has seen its market share grow rapidly over the last few years with new models such as the A4 and A3 helping to boost sales despite
tough economic times.
VW are doing well too with the legendary new Golf proving once again to be a sure fire hit. Skoda too have had their fair share of success, with the Octavia and Superb doing well. Over at Seat things are good if not with the dramatic success enjoyed by their counterparts in the group.
So it was with great interest that I attended a refresher day for the Irish motoring press at Mondello Park in county Kildare. There were two elements to the day. A number of cars to drive on the circuit and others from the group to road test. Naturally the new Golf GTi with performance pack was in attendance and if any proof were needed it proved to be a real winner both on and off track. Its just such a perfectly set up car that offers quite brilliant performance yet is totally practical and all for around €40K.
Another Star of the day was the Audi S3 quattro. It might be pricey but what a car! Sublime to drive, amazing grip and performance, a gorgeous engine with DSG gearbox and yet will happily transport four adults and their kit. There were numerous models from the Skoda fleet to test also, and again I am reminded just how excellent these cars have become. But my attention was drawn to the very stylish range on offer from Seat.
I did quite a few laps in the little Ibiza and what a fun car it is. it proved surprisingly quick and nimble around the Kildare circuit. I liked it. However the car that seemed to be the talk of the day was the stunning new Seat Leon Cupra. A direct rival to the Golf GTI with which it shares many parts.
Undoubtedly the new Seat Leon Cupra is one of the smartest looking sports hatch’s cars on the road today. Even outshining the lovely Golf GTI in my opinion.
It has that real touch of Mediterranean flair making it stand out from the crowd. Initially I was less impressed by the cabin. I feel the large swathe of black dashboard plastic looks a bit bland. That said the instruments are laid out in a style more akin to a sports coupe than a 5-door hatch with lovely sports seats which adds to the sporty theme. It all feels very well put together with a feel of quality evident throughout.
Overall then the cabin proves to be a very nice place in which to be as either passenger or driver. Specification is excellent too with plenty of goodies to keep the most demanding of motorists happy. Powered by a 280bhp TSi petrol engine this car packs real punch. It will hit 100km from a standstill in just 5.7 seconds yet Seat claim it burns just 6.6 litres per 100km. Yet emissions are just 154g/km. With Dynamic chassis control, it handles like a dream. Prices start at €33,895 for the 265bnp version or €35,400 for the super quick Cupra 280bhp.