Cupra Leon review
All-new hot hatch from Seat high-performance spin-off brand.
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The new Cupra Leon isn’t just a hot version of Seat’s family hatch, it’s also the second car from an all-new brand.
Along with the name, it gets some fancy copper details and the front end features more scoops than the average trowel factory.
The Cupra Leon looks a bit sportier than the old model, but it doesn’t go all out like the mad Honda Civic Type R. There are big air intakes and a low splitter, plus new side skirts, lowered suspension and 19-inch alloys.
Depending on which engine you choose, you either get two or four exhaust pipes. There’s also a diffuser and a roof-mounted spoiler – which aren’t just for show. They actually help make the new Cupra Leon 8% more aerodynamic than the old car.
The new Cupra Leon gets pretty much the same cabin as the SEAT Leon. So it’s all very simple and very minimalist. There’s a big 10-inch infotainment screen, a digital driver’s display, and very few buttons. There is a new sports steering wheel, though, with a flat bottom, lots of copper stitching and some extra buttons – just like in the Cupra Ateca.
There’s more copper detailing on the air vents, too. And these are the same shape as the front grille – just in case you’d forgotten what that looks like. You also get some sports seats.
You won’t be able to get the Cupra Leon as a cool-looking three-door, like the old Leon SC, but you can get it as an estate.
300hp through the front wheels should make life quite interesting.
You’ll be able to get the new Cupra Leon with three petrol engines. They’re all 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinders. But, you can choose 245hp, 300hp or 310hp versions. The entry-level 245hp model is a rival for the VW Golf GTI but you can only get the range-topping 310hp engine in the Cupra Leon ST estate. Just the thing for making quick tip-stops, rather than pit-stops.
Pretty much every other 300hp hot-hatch gets four-wheel drive as standard, but not the Cupra Leon. Pick a 245hp or 300hp model and all that power goes to the front wheels only – just like in the lairy Honda Civic Type R.
If you want the reassurance of four-wheel drive, the 310hp estate gets it as standard.
The Cupra Leon is one of the first hot hatches to come with hybrid power. This version is imaginatively called the eHybrid, and it gets a 150hp 1.4-litre petrol engine and a beefy 114hp electric motor. These work together to produce 245hp – the same as the entry-level 2.0-litre petrol car.
That might not sound like much, but the electric motor helps this hybrid pack a whopping 400Nm of torque. That’s the same as the range-topping 310hp Leon. Not only will it be quick, but the electric motor lets you drive for up to 37 miles without using any petrol. A full charge takes three-and-a-half hours from a wall box, or six hours from a three-pin socket.
Whichever engine combo you go for, you get an automatic gearbox as standard. It’s a dual-clutch unit – just like in the old Leon Cupra, Golf R or Audi S3.