The most powerful production car SEAT has ever made goes up against one of the fastest dog breeds on a frozen lake.
To show off the all-wheel-drive prowess of its new 300-hp Leon Cupra wagon, SEAT got in touch with racing driver Jordi Gené and asked him to head to Lapland and go up against a sled pulled by six Alaskan and Siberian huskies. That might seem like an unfair race, but it was done just for fun and also to highlight some of the important assets of the brand’s most powerful road-going car ever.
Aside from being super cute, huskies are a force to be reckoned with considering they can pull their own weight of about 30 kilograms (66 pounds) and can run for as much as 81 miles (130 kilometers) in a single day. Not only that, but they’re among the 20 fastest dog breeds in the world and are able to reach speeds of up to 25 mph (40 kph).
The grippy Leon and the sled pulled by the huskies had to tackle the very cold Lake Pikku-Nissi — one of the 188,000 lakes in Finland — where the ice is about one-meter thick. While the car has four-pot Brembo brake calipers to stop efficiently, the sled comes with a clawed metal bar the musher steps on, sometimes using both feet when the dogs are overly energetic.
At €35,440 in its domestic market, the Leon Cupra ST DSG 4Drive is the most expensive model of the SEAT Leon range and bear in mind you can get the Cupra+AWD combo exclusively on the wagon version. The Spanish VW Golf R Variant as we like to call it has the familiar turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine with a meaty 300 hp (224 kW) and 380 Newton-meters (280 pound-feet) of torque. All that power is channeled to the 4Drive system exclusively through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Give it the beans and the high-performance compact wagon will do 0-62 mph (0-100 kph) in only 4.9 seconds before topping out at a limited 155 mph (250 kph). Besides being quick, the all-paw Leon Cupra ST is still a wagon at the end of the day, so you have a spacious trunk that can carry all six huskies and the sled if you fold down the rear seats.
Gallery: 2017 SEAT Leon Cupra ST races sled pulled by huskies
6 HUSKIES AND 300 HORSES
Martorell 22/03/2017. – A sled pulled by six Alaskan and Siberian huskies measures up against the Leon CUPRA, driven by racer Jordi Gené, on a frozen lake in Lapland; a fun challenge aimed at bringing out the best in each of them: the endurance of these ancestral breeds, which can run around 130 km in a day, and the 300 horsepower of the brand’s most powerful car.
Power and endurance: While the Leon CUPRA is characterised by its performance, accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, huskies are known for their endurance, although they are considered among the 20 fastest dog breeds. They make five-day journeys, reach a maximum speed of 40 km/h and each pull their own weight of around 30 kilos.
1 metre thick ice beneath the wheels: Nearly a metre of ice blankets Lake Pikku-Nissi, one of the 188,000 there are in Finland, and enables cars and dogsleds to cross it without any problems, from the end of the year until well into April.
Leader mentality: Mamba and Mustys are the two lead dogs that guide the team while sledding. Their trainer, Susi Normand, claims that they become leaders of the pack instinctively: “They have to be mentally strong and brave”. “Just like race drivers," smiles Jordi.
On any surface: The grip of their paws enables them to run over ice or snow at the same speed. Gené also takes full advantage of the Leon CUPRA’s 4Drive and snow tyres with special studs for extreme driving on ice.
25 ºC below zero: For the huskies, the -5 ºC displayed on the thermometer is typical of a balmy day; the ideal temperature for them is between -10 and -25 degrees. The same way their fur enables them to withstand the cold, cars can also endure very low temperatures. In fact, they are tested at temperatures ranging from -40 ºC to 110 ºC to guarantee their quality remains the same no matter what the weather conditions are like.
Brakes to match their power: Just as the CUPRA features four-pot Brembo brake callipers, the sled is equipped with a clawed metal bar. Both require a brake to match their performance. In fact, the dogs pull so hard that the musher has to step on the brake with both feet to prevent an excited team from taking off before the order is given. While on the move, it stabilises the seat and prevents the sled from swinging when taking curves. “We both take bends in a similar way: we brake before the curve to position the vehicle and ride it out correctly,” says Jordi.
Purebred champions: Huskies participate in several dogsled competitions all over the world, such as the European Championship or the End of the World Race in Argentina. On the other hand, the CUPRA have also achieved impressive successes in their lifetime, especially two record times on the Nürburgring, where both the Leon ST and the 5-door Leon set a lap time of under 8 minutes.