The Seat Leon Cupra has been photographed for the first time.

Due to go on sale early next year, this early prototype sports large air intakes, significantly lowered suspension and a new rear exhaust design. The new Leon Cupra will be front-drive only, but still pack around 265bhp from its 2.0-litre turbo engine.

As with the standard car, power is expected to be transmitted through either a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG gearbox.

The car's interior is expected to receive bespoke elements to seperate it from the standard Leon and three-door Leon SC

An even hotter version of the Leon, the Cupra R, is also in development. Rumours suggest it will be a 300bhp, all-wheel-drive Leon, and will act as a performance flagship for the new Leon line-up.

The model would be equipped with a highly tuned 300bhp version of the new Volkswagen Golf GTI’s EA888 engine hooked up to a dual-clutch DSG gearbox and all-wheel drive. A 0-62mph time close to 5.0sec is being indicated by sources, as is a top speed in excess of 155mph.

Other features of the Cupra R prototype, our sources indicate, include launch control and a special ‘Cupra’ driving mode that significantly sharpens up the driving experience.

Quad exhausts, lowered sports suspension and a subtle bodykit are also expected for the Cupra R, as are sports seats and new sporty trim for the interior. Three- and five-door versions of the Cupra R are plotted.

Internet rumours suggest the Cupra R will launch in 2014, after the launch of a non-R Cupra for three- and five-door and estate body styles.

Elsewhere in the Leon line-up, the Leon ST estate is in line for four-wheel drive next year, although it has yet to be decided whether this will be offered in the UK. Seat is also planning an ST with Audi Allroad-style body cladding and raised suspension for a rugged, off-road look.