Cupra Leon: prices, specs, range and release date

The first generation of standalone Cupra - Seat's sporty brand - models is on its way. This Leon promises to kick things off with a bang

Chris Rosamond
Mar 17, 2020

Seat is supposed to be the fun brand in the VW Group (Audi, VW, Seat and Skoda are all part of the same larger company) and the new Cupra Leon makes the point in some style, with its attention-grabbing looks and potent engines. That said, as the Spanish firm is developing Cupra as a standalone performance brand, you won’t see any Seat badges on its new hot hatch.

However, the Leon Cupra has been a popular performance version of the Ford Focus and Renault Megane-rivalling Seat Leon hatchback range for some years now, so you can have a good idea of what to expect. Plenty of power, impressive roadholding and good value are the main elements.

Known from now on simply as the Cupra Leon – an approach that follows hot on the heels of the Cupra Ateca SUV – the latest version is offered with a range of punchy petrol engines with up to 310hp. That’s enough for an easy sub-five-second 0-62mph time, with rapid-fire gearshifts promised by the standard 'dual-clutch' automatic transmission with paddles behind the steering wheel for changing gear manually.

For the first time, the Cupra Leon will also be sold in Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV) form, too, pairing an petrol engine with an electric motor to offer the prospect of zero-emission driving for short distances, provided you plug the car in regularly. That’s the advantage of sharing engineering and technology with the Volkswagen Golf, which is also offered with the same PHEV tech.

Quick facts

  • 245hp to 310hp engine options
  • New plug-in hybrid version
  • 37-mile electric only range for PHEV
  • Hatchback and estate models
  • 310hp all-wheel drive estate flagship
  • 0-62mph in less than five seconds

Significant roadholding upgrades are part of the Cupra package too, and the model features upgraded electronic power steering and Adaptive Chassis Control - which lets you adjust the feel of the car - as well as big 370mm Brembo brakes. It sits 25mm lower than the standard Leon too, backed up by a number of styling tweaks that give the Cupra Leon a much more edgy, aggressive appearance.

There’s a bold Cupra logo on the nose, plus larger air intakes and an aerodynamic 'splitter' at the front. The side view features 18 or 19-inch alloy wheels filling the wheelarches that are emphasised by racy side skirts, while dark gloss finishes to the grille, door mirrors and window surrounds add further sporty accents.

Standard equipment levels will be high, including the latest driver assistance packs, and the Cupra Leon also benefits from the VW Group’s latest phone connectivity, entertainment and control systems in the cabin. Read on to find out more about the full range of Cupra Leon specs and tech.

Cupra Leon specification and models

With its eye-catching go-faster styling there’s no doubt about the Cupra’s sporty ambitions, but there’s a healthy dose of practicality built into the line-up.

For starters there’s no three-door model, traditionally the core hot hatchback model, and you can only buy the Cupra Leon in five-door hatchback or estate variants.

As one of the latest Seat Leon family, the new Cupra has a longer distance between front and rear wheels than in its predecessor, which makes for more legroom in the cabin – especially for rear seat passengers.

The Cupra Leon’s interior decor reflects the exterior, mostly through sporty bucket seats in cloth or leather, and a steering wheel with an engine start button and drive mode selector. Copper colour and dark chrome trim highlights reflect the exterior trim and wheels, whiile colour-coded seat and door panels add to the visual drama.

The Cupra Leon comes with an array of the latest cabin technology, including a 10-inch tablet-style screen in the centre of the dashboard and Digital Cockpit – another configurable screen that replaces traditional analogue dials in front of the driver.

Seat’s Full Link system allows you to connect your phone wirelessly with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and you also get voice and gesture control, so that you shouldn't need to rely on prodding touchscreens while driving to adjust settings.

Safety kit includes Predictive Adaptive Cruise Control with GPS data and traffic sign recognition, Traffic Jam Assist and Lane Assist, and you’re also offered Blind Spot Detection and Automatic Emergency Braking.

Other equipment includes LED headlights, indicator repeaters in the door mirrors and the full-width rear lamp clusters. You also get LED interior ambient lighting and puddle lamps that project the word Cupra on the floor when you unlock the car.

Cupra Leon hybrid tech

The core of the Cupra Leon eHybrid powertrain is a 1.4-litre petrol engine making 150hp combined with a 115hp electric motor that runs off a 12kWh battery pack. Working together they can produce a maximum of 245hp and a substantial 400Nm of torque - that refers to low-engine-speed muscle.

If you want to drive on electric power alone, a fully charged battery will power the Cupra Leon hybrid for up to 37 miles – so owners with short-ish urban commutes could potentially drive to work without using a drop of petrol. You can recharge the battery at home in 3.5hrs if you have a 3.6kW AC wall box, or six hours from a regular domestic plug.

We’ve yet to hear the official Cupra Leon eHybrid performance figures, but company car drivers should be pleased with an official CO2 figure of 50g/km, which puts it into one of the lowest company car tax bands.

Cupra Leon performance and handling

Aside from the PHEV version, there are three power options in the Cupra Leon, all using variants of the same 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine. The 245hp and 300hp engines are available in both five-door and estate cars with front-wheel drive, while the 310hp engine is saved for the estate and comes with standard-fit four-wheel drive. It’s this model that can record the sub-five-second 0-62mph time, though we’re still waiting for the acceleration figures for the lesser models.

The Cupra Leon’s handling should be considerably sharper and more responsive than the standard Leon thanks to its uprated suspension and steering. There’s also some clever tech to help stop the wheels from spinning, while four-wheel drive estate models also have clever electronic control to deliver power to the wheels with the most grip.

Cupra Leon drivers also have the luxury of selectable drive modes - Comfort, Sport and Cupra - which alter the suspension and engine settings, plus personalised settings that allow drivers to tailer the combination to suit their taste.

Cupra Leon prices and delivery dates

While Seat is yet to announce prices for the Cupra Leon, we’re expecting it to start below £30,000, just undercutting the VW Golf GTI. Estate car variants are likely to cost around £1,000 more judging on the costs of the previous Seat Leon Cupra models.

 

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