Currently reading: Cupra Leon eHybrid plug-in hot hatch launched with 242bhp
First hatchback and estate to wear a Cupra badge also arrives with up to 306bhp petrol power
Tom Morgan, deputy digital editor
4 mins read
20 February 2020

Fledgling performance brand Cupra has expanded its line-up with the Cupra Leon hot hatchback, its first model to be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Based on the fourth-generation Seat Leon revealed last month, it will be the first Leon to wear the Cupra badge and will be available as both a five-door and an estate, with a selection of petrol engines as well as a PHEV variant.

The Leon e-Hybrid plug-in pairs a 1.4-litre, 148bhp petrol engine with a 113bhp electric motor and 13kWh battery pack, for a combined 242bhp and 295lb ft of torque. It will be capable of a WLTP-tested 37 miles of electric range, with CO2 emissions below 50g/km.

The standard Cupra Leon uses the tried-and-tested 2.0-litre turbocharged ‘EA888’ TSI petrol engine, available with 242bhp or 298bhp, in both hatchback and estate guise. A more powerful 306bhp variant is exclusive to the estate, which also gets 4Drive all-wheel drive. All versions use a dual-clutch DSG automatic gearbox and feature an electric limited slip differential. Suspension is by MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear, with adaptive damping adjusted via four user-selected drive modes.

A larger front splitter, expanded air intakes, roof spoiler and Cupra badging set the Cupra Leon apart from the Seat car on which it is based. It has a 3mm lower roofline, sits lower to the ground (25mm on the front axle, 20mm on the rear), and gets a bespoke exhaust - twin tailpipes for the 242bhp engine, and quad pipes for more powerful variants. All models have full LED headlights, plus a rear LED lightbar that stretches across the entire width of the tailgate. It rides on 18in alloy wheels as standard, but can be optioned with 19in alloys and uprated 370mm Brembo brakes.

Inside, the Cupra Leon gets sports seats, a steering wheel with engine start and drive mode select buttons, a 10.1in central infotainment touchscreen and fully digital instrument cluster with bespoke Sport view mode. Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay are also available. The cabin features LED ambient mood lighting, along with copper and dark chrome accents that match the exterior trim, while the estate sees boot space increased by 30 litres over the hatchback.


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“The Cupra Leon’s design is the result of the combination between athletic physiognomy and striking elegance,” Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, Cupra director of design, said. “Smooth flowing lines and well-trained muscles reflect perfectly the way it drives on the road.”

The previous generation Leon Cupra, which wore a Seat badge, sold around 44,000 units across its lifetime. 

“The Leon Cupra has been a bestseller,” Cupra CEO Wayne Griffiths explained. “With the launch of the new Cupra Leon, we will strengthen the Cupra brand, by giving a new identity to a very emblematic car.”

All Cupra Leon models will be built at Seat’s Martorell facility in Barcelona. It is set to go on sale in the summer, with customer deliveries due in the following months. As with the fourth-generation Seat Leon, prices for the Cupra models are expected to increase over the outgoing model, suggesting a starting price of around £32,000.

Q&A: Axel Andorff, Seat executive vice-president for research and development

Q. How does the Cupra Leon’s hybrid differ from elsewhere in the VW Group?

A. Even if the drivetrain is from the group, what we have here is a Cupra specific application, not just of the drivetrain and also of the chassis. We have to admit the car has the weight of that technology, but we were able to set up a good chassis system, I think the agility makes it very nice to drive.

Q. Are we far off the plug-in becoming the performance flagship?

A. This is the challenge you always have, as soon as you bring a battery into a car and you have the topic of weight. I think if you have the right compromise on making the battery not too big, but having the ability to boost, there’s a good compromise, compensating for the additional weight while keeping the agility. Not all our customers require 300bhp - we’re also looking at those customers that want to come to the brand, or the need for a plug-in hybrid. They want to have the Cupra feeling, and the brand image, so I think this is a very good fit.

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Q. Could there be a Hardcore Leon variant on the cards?

A. Cupra is a small company still. We are happy that we were able to set up the Leon as we see it today, and at the same time we already set up the ICE race car and e-Rracer. This is a lot of work for a small team, and I’m proud of what we’ve done. But if you have racing guys on your team, they do think about this stuff.

Q. How much autonomy does Cupra have from Seat, and from VW Group?

A. We have the right freedom we need to create the brand. There are strict rules within the Volkswagen Group, but as we have the good situation that our group CEO is also head of our advisory board, you can imagine that whatever we do, we have a good freedom of where we want to go.


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20 February 2020

“The Leon Cupra has been a bestseller,” Cupra CEO Wayne Griffiths explained. “With the launch of the new Cupra Leon, we will strengthen the Cupra brand, by giving a new identity to a very emblematic car.”

Obviously swapping the names over makes a massive difference..

20 February 2020
That Colour really shows off the design details in the bodywork. Looks good. Not sure about the wheels on the hatch though.

20 February 2020

 Probably goes like of the proverbial Shovel, only critique, it's a bit of a button fest, there everywhere!

21 February 2020
I too am unsure on the wheel design and I still don't get cupra as a brand, seat was meant to be a sports brand in the first place with cupra the top flight GTi esq models with cupra r in an R sort of position above, then they diluted it all with just fr badging, I still don't see this as a separate brand or see the need for it as a separate brand, unless in the long run it'll replace seat altogether maybe?
Will there be an fr badged Leon or are all seats now just cooking models? What next vrs as a separate brand? I do like this Leon in both seat and cupra guises, and prefer it to the golf styling wise.

21 February 2020

I can't think of a reason a performance driver would want to spend £000's on this PHEV over the standard 2.0 Seat Leon, sorry I mean Cupra 2.0, other than Tax ones.

21 February 2020

vehicles based on a Golf, uses same engines, running gear and tech of a Golf.. Another clone from the house of VW. 

21 February 2020
Citytiger wrote:

vehicles based on a Golf, uses same engines, running gear and tech of a Golf.. Another clone from the house of VW. 

Cheaper probably too!

21 February 2020

Does it really matter what the wheels, or light clusters look like? The fundamentals are that this hybrid has a lot of power and torque, but it's going to be expensive and almost certainly very heavy given the sizable battery. And it's built by a company most people have never heard of and hasn't exactly got a track record of success in the UK. 

After sveral decades of establishing the SEAT brand as a slightly cheaper more sporty and stylish alternative to the parent VW it seems a bit daft to establish a new, similar brand. 

21 February 2020

I am not one to usually be too bothered about interiors, but that just looks nasty.

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