Cupra has launched its new Leon, complete with fully in-house badging and a greater choice of powertrain options than ever.
Hawkish lights and copper details accentuate the new design. A full-width light bar, amusingly called ‘coast-to-coast’ lighting by Cupra, looks sharp and fresh on the back. The black and copper wheels are optional and also come in two-tone black and silver. Unfortunately the front corner vents are obviously fake and the surprisingly conservative styling maybe misses an opportunity or two.
There will be two body styles for the openly Audi-esque new machine; a hatchback and an estate that spread four drivetrains between them. Starting with an entry-level 241bhp 2.0-litre turbo, this base model is differentiated by 18-inch wheels instead of 19s, two exhaust tips instead of four, and 273lb ft of torque instead of 295.
As confirmed recently there’s a 241bhp plug-in hybrid, switching the 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine for a 148bhp 1.4 in tandem with an electric motor and a small 13kWh battery that’s good for as much as 37 miles, if you’re very lucky. Together they muster 295lb ft of torque and blend good performance with short-range electric-only running. Recharging takes 3.5 hours from a basic 3.5kW wall box, or six hours from a 230-volt socket.
At the business end are two more versions of the 2.0-litre TSI unit. There’s a 296bhp option that links to front-wheel drive and an electronic limited-slip differential in both the hatch and the wagon, and then there’s a 306bhp version just for a special four-wheel drive iteration of the estate. This 4Drive system, says Cupra, can shift power to whichever wheel has the most grip.
Naturally the 4Drive-based car is the fastest off the line, dropping the 0-62mph launch in 4.8 seconds – a pace that not that long ago used to be at the faster end of sports car territory. Acceleration is helped by the fact that there’s no manual gearbox here – all Cupra Leons use fast-shifting DSG and will continue to do so unless there’s enough customer demand for a manual.
Some elements of the new car are familiar from its previous life under the Seat umbrella. There are four driving/chassis modes spanning Comfort, Sport, Cupra and Individual, but until we’ve used it at speed we’ll reserve judgment on the touch-screen slider mechanism you need to use to switch between modes.
There are Brembo stoppers up front gripping 370mm discs. It should be more stable than ever thanks to wider front and rear track, plus a 50mm longer wheelbase and a roof lowered by a token 3mm. When compared to the new Seat Leon, the Cupra version sits 25mm lower on the front axle and 20mm lower at the back.
The driver benefits from a digital cockpit sourced from Audi. It features a special Cupra display mode that prioritises engine speed, current power and torque outputs, turbo pressure and g-forces. A further 10-inch media screen takes care of additional display outputs.
Sales will start later this year, with dates for its various markets yet to be confirmed. We should expect to learn more about pricing by that point, but it should start well below £30,000.