Local pricing for the Cupra Leon have been revealed, with prices starting at £31,450 for the Leon TSI 245, and rising to £34,495 for the plug-in hybrid and topping out for now at £35,000 for the 296bhp TSI 300. This model spread mimics the Golf’s GTI, GTE and GTI Clubsport, which all broadly sit around £1500 more than the Cupras. Pricing for the range-topping Cupra Leon ST 310, with its all-wheel drive system is expected later in the year.
Combined with the Leon’s new chassis, design and interior, all Leon models will start arriving to customers in early 2021 on the back of the previous Leon Cupra’s impressive 44,000 sales, and a whole arsenal of tricks ready to rival the new Civic Type R, Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST.
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Its first big upgrade compared to the previous model is the bodyshell, which is 90mm longer and shaped somewhat differently, with a more upright windscreen, longer bonnet and 50mm longer wheelbase. This body is shared with the standard SEAT Leon (and other Volkswagen Group MQB products), but the Cupra sits lower on its larger wheel and tyre packages by 25mm and 20mm at the front and rear respectively, and with slightly wider tracks. The electronic power steering system has also been fettled, while the adaptive dampers have been engineered to give the Leon wider variability between the different driver modes, all of which are now more accessible through a new steering wheel-mounted mode switch. The brakes are also new, with four-piston Brembo calipers gripping 370mm front discs on the high-powered 296bhp variant.
As with hot Leons of the past Cupra is offering a range of different powertrains, including a new plug-in hybrid option for the first time. The entry Cupra Leon features a 242bhp 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that will also be seen in the new Golf GTI, while the Leon PHEV combines an electric motor and battery pack with a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, again producing a 242bhp peak power figure. This powertrain is incidentally also shared with a hot Golf, this time the GTE. Both these powertrains power the front wheels via a dual-clutch transmission – a six-speed unit for the PHEV and a seven-speed unit for the other.
The two other powertrain options take things up a notch though, starting with a 297bhp version of the same 2-litre engine powering the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and electronically controlled limited-slip differential. These three powertrain options are available in either five-door hatchback or estate form. Finally, topping the range is the estate-only 306bhp Cupra ST 4Drive, which sends its power to the road via an all-wheel-drive system and a DSG ’box. Performance figures for this flagship model are rated at 4.8sec to 62mph, 0.1sec faster than the current model, while top speed is limited to 155mph.
These two hotter engine variants might be familiar to you from the current Leon Cupra, but that’s no bad thing, as the current Leon’s strong EA888 engine and slick DSG ’box are, and always have been, close to the top of the class in terms of performance and usability.
What’s more dramatic is the Leon’s new design inside and out. All models receive an aggressive new bumper set, bespoke colour options and plenty of copper-accented trim and badging to denote its Cupra status. Both 242bhp versions are fitted with 18-inch wheels as standard, while the higher-output models replace these with 19-inch units for an even tougher stance. The minimalist interior is shared with the standard Leon, but accessorised by yet more copper detailing, Alcantara trim on the seats and door cards and a bespoke steering wheel fitted with an engine start button and mode switch as mentioned above.
Tech has also improved, moving across to the new 10-inch floating infotainment display familiar to the standard Leon (and Golf), paired to a new digital driver’s display.
The new Cupra Leon is available for pre-order now, and will reach UK showrooms later this year. Final UK prices and specifications have yet to be announced, but we suspect the slight value edge that Leons have traditionally had over their hot VW Golf cousins will remain, and hopefully too their slightly more boisterous personalities.