2021 Cupra Leon hot hatchback: 296bhp petrol engine now available

New Cupra Leon gets familiar 2.0-litre engine; prices start from £35,660

  • Plug-in hybrid also available to order
  • Two trim levels
  • Range of engines with up to 306bhp available

The Cupra Leon hot hatch can now be ordered with a 296bhp petrol engine, which joins the plug-in hybrid in showrooms. It’s carried over from the previous performance Leon, and gets the car from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds. This engine is the most potent one you can get in the hatchback and prices reflect that; it starts at £35,660.

Cupra Leon prices and specifications

The upcoming 242bhp petrol model will cost £31,450, while the plug-in hybrid version costs £35,000 (£36,730 for the VZ3 trim level). The 296bhp petrol engine is also available in two trim levels, with the higher-spec model starting at £37,390.

Kicking off the range is a VZ2 trim level, which includes 19-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, copper detailing, a digital cockpit and a 10-inch sat nav infotainment screen. VZ3 brings extras including heated Nappa leather bucket seats, wireless phone charging and a heated steering wheel. Seven paint colours are available for no extra cost.

Following the launch of the latest SEAT Leon, the high-performance Cupra Leon model effectively replaces the outgoing Leon Cupra, so there’s the same choice of five-door hatchback and estate body styles.

Plug-in hybrid

For the first time, you can choose a plug-in hybrid system that’s also used in the Skoda Octavia vRS and Cupra Formentor. A 1.4-litre petrol engine, electric motor and 13kWh battery pack combine to produce 242bhp, and you’ll also be able to travel up to 32 miles on a full charge. Official CO2 emissions for this engine come in at just 30g/km, which will please company-car drivers, as well as buyers who have to commute into London; it’s exempt from the Congestion Charge.

The battery pack will recharge in around three and a half hours from a 3.6kW wallbox, or around six hours from a standard three-pin plug.

Petrol engines

Alongside the plug-in hybrid, you can choose from three petrol options. The cheapest will be a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 242bhp, which will rival the Volkswagen Golf GTI, and this engine is also available with 296bhp. Both of these versions are front-wheel drive and can be ordered with the hatchback or estate.

Cupra Leon ST estate buyers will also have the option of a 306bhp version of the 2.0-litre engine, mated to SEAT’s 4Drive four-wheel-drive system. This model will be the quickest in the range, getting from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds - around a second faster than the outgoing model - and on to a limited top speed of 155mph. All four engines come with an automatic transmission.

The Cupra Leon gets chassis tweaks to improve its handling. The Brembo brakes are much bigger than standard at 370mm, while four driving modes are available, letting you select between Comfort, Sport, Cupra and Individual settings. Adaptive Chassis Control is also offered, which scans the road ahead and adjusts the suspension to iron out imperfections. Compared to the standard Leon, the Cupra-badged version sits 20mm lower to the ground.

Interior

The interior matches the outside with a host of copper touches, and Cupra models also benefit from more supportive front seats, dark chrome finishers and a Cupra steering wheel, complete with two new buttons for the ignition and driving mode selection.

Like the standard Leon, a 10-inch infotainment touchscreen is mounted on the dashboard, and it’s joined by a digital instrument cluster of the same size. The touchscreen gets voice and gesture control, plus Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. An accompanying SEAT Connect app allows users to remotely access driving data, lock/unlock the doors, see where the car is parked and set up a series of alerts. If you buy the hybrid model, the app also lets you oversee the charging progress and preset the cabin temperature.

As the flagship model, the Cupra Leon gets plenty of innovative safety technology alongside the state-of-the-art connectivity features. Blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist and traffic jam assist are all fitted as standard, and there’s also a predictive adaptive cruise control system. This works with the sat nav, front-mounted camera and the traffic sign recognition system to adjust the cruise control speed based on the road layout ahead.

Styling

This new car is the first Cupra-badged Leon and the eye-catching copper exterior elements and alloy wheels are similar to those of the existing Cupra Ateca. The Cupra Leon also gets much bigger front air intakes, a rear diffuser sitting between two sets of exhaust pipes and extra vents in the rear bumper. Even with the changes, it’s far more subtle than the Honda Civic Type R, while other rivals include the Ford Focus ST, Renault Megane RS and Hyundai i30 N.

Read our review of the current SEAT Leon Cupra, or see where it ranks on our list of the best used hot hatchbacks.

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