EVERY once in a while a car comes along that delivers on all counts and the SEAT Leon Cupra 290 is that model - it's dynamically styled, boasts outstanding handling ability, it's practical and it's guaranteed to put the fun factor back into motoring.
Powered by a mighty 290hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine delivering 380Nm of torque, this hot hatchback can complete the 0-62mph sprint in 6.0 seconds and maxes out at 155mph.
Those are impressive stats for a vehicle billed as a family car that can happily potter along on the school run thanks to its five-door practicality.
But it's out on the open road that it really excels. The road-holding is sublime and the perfectly weighted steering offers ample driver feedback as the car fires through the automatic gearbox.
There are steering wheel-mounted paddles if you fancy taking over the gear changes and various drive modes called Comfort, Sport, Cupra and Individual alter the car's reactions and behaviour considerably.
The acceleration is blisteringly quick and the power seems endless with instant bursts of pace easily achieved for overtaking a slower vehicle. But despite all the exciting driving dynamics, the Leon Cupra feels perfectly balanced.
The cornering is controlled even when bends are attacked at speed and the all-round handling will leave any pure driving enthusiast begging for more.
However, there is no point having all that power at your disposal if the car's styling doesn't do it justice.
Thankfully, the Leon Cupra looks as good as it drives. It's a real head-turner with its sculpted lines and curves, detailed grille featuring the SEAT badge and a signature Cupra chequered flag. There are twin exhaust pipes, a large rear spoiler, tinted windows, full LED headlights and 19-inch alloys to complete the look.
The interior has been ergonomically designed for driver comfort and oozes sporty character throughout with sports seats carrying the ‘Cupra' name, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, metal pedals and smart black alcantara upholstery.
It has a neat, clutter-free layout but there's lots of on-board technology to explore, including full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a GPS navigation system, dual zone climate control and lots more besides.
A high resolution digital instrument cluster can be personalised to show the data most relevant to you, and all the controls, dials and readouts are perfectly positioned for driver-usability.
When it comes to the price-tag and running costs, the Leon Cupra 290 is on sale for £29,875 and can deliver combined fuel economy of 35.8-38.7mpg (WLTP) with carbon emissions of 149g/km.
Comfort levels within the car are good with enough room in the back for a couple of adults provided the front seats are not pushed back too far.
In addition, the boot is well-sized with a capacity of 380 litres, increasing to 1,210 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
Elsewhere there is a glovebox, narrow door bins, a deep central box beneath the front armrest, front and rear cup holders, pockets in the seat backs and a handy tray in front of the gear stick that's big enough to hold a larger phone.
The Leon Cupra secured a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and features a comprehensive number of systems and driver aids. These include traffic sign recognition, pedestrian protection with automatic braking, electronic stability control, emergency assist, lane assist, high beam assist, hill hold control and seven airbags.