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Understated look and raw power is perfect mix, writes Ian Mallon

CUPRA R ... say it quickly and it sounds like you're trying to impress a woman who likes big cat impersonations.

It's the one letter of the alphabet that turns otherwise ordinary looking cars into deranged, howling psychopathic mean machines.

The Golf R is another one of those once sober models that when met with the symbolic 18th letter becomes a roaring great lunatic.

There is also the Scirocco R and I could go on, but for now let's stick with the one R that I am sure will be on my end of year list of winners under the 'Small Car that Kicks Like a Mule' segment.

And why? Well for 265 very good reasons.

This is a car that is just shy of the magic 270bhp and yet it is relatively sober looking from the outside.

Sure it has the oval chrome exhausts, the 19" alloys and blackened out windows but the Cupra is more on the distinguished side than boy racer end of things.

Impreza it ain't, and that isn't a bad thing for those who like their boy racer wagons cool and understated.

So enough of the bull, what does the Cupra feel like with all that power driving it?

Well, it does indeed kick like a mule but what does it for me is that unmistakeable Cupra R growl upon take-off -- imagine jet engine meets big game.

Now, the one thing you need to remember when you're driving a car with that much going on under the bonnet, is that it takes quite something to stop it.

It uses the most responsive brakes that I've ever experienced.

The anchors are so good and strong that a couple of times I nearly ended out on the front bumper myself -- so enthusiastic were they in their desire to grind the car to a halt.

It also has a TCS system that keeps it relatively turbulence free when you're flying along at a rate of knots.

The highlight extras include rain sensor wipers, cruise control and an on-board climate control that was second to none. I loved the two tone black and steel grey sports seats too and the gear stick, and the ... need I go on?

What the Cupra R does give you is a whole package that is all things to all men, and boy racers with cash -- it is gRRRRR-eat.

Whilst purring around the country in my powerful little cat I did cut a number of unwarranted observations from friend and foe alike.

The most inappropriate came from an individual who recently bought his wife a Nissan Juke.

"It's not a bit boyracer for you, innit?" he scowled as I pulled up outside my local.

When I pointed out to the various credentials of the hottest hatch I've had all year he merely sniffed, and continued on his merry way.

You can't call yourself a car lover if a Cupra R or the likes doesn't get the blood spurting around the veins.

The Cupra R costs €40,305.


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