The inclement British weather usually inspires caution in drivers, especially when you're forced to share the road with half-melted snow and pedestrians avoiding icy pavements. So it's slightly disconcerting that Seat's premier hot hatchback -- the Leon Cupra TSI -- is bringing out the Michael Schumacher in us, even when we're surrounded by a good foot of snow.
Fire and ice
There are a couple of reasons for this unseasonal recklessness. Firstly, the Cupra TSI is phenomenally quick -- its 2.0-litre, 231bhp turbocharged engine is capable of propelling the thing from 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds and on to a quite alarming 153mph. It always feels eager in everyday conditions, too, its 221lb/ft of torque -- available from as low as 2,200rpm -- inspiring overtaking manoeuvres that would be suicidal in slower vehicles.
The second 'problem' is that it handles with such aplomb that thoughts of ploughing into a tree will be the furthest thing from your mind. This came as a surprise to us, since hot hatches -- and indeed any powerful front-wheel-drive vehicle -- are usually frustrating to drive under heavy acceleration. Torque steer -- the phenomenon where the power of the engine pulls the car off course -- is kept to a minimum in the Cupra TSI, though. The ride is flat and firm, yet comfortable, and the brakes -- aided by huge 345mm discs -- are arguably more impressive than the acceleration.