The performance arm of Seat has confirmed that a new Cupra Leon will be unveiled on 20 February at a dedicated event, ahead of its public debut at the Geneva motor show.
The fourth-generation Leon, unveiled late last month, is set to be quickly joined by its hot, Cupra-badged sibling in showrooms in late summer. As well as a petrol variant, it will also offer a 241bhp plug-in hybrid option.
As shown by a new preview image of the car's front end, the Cupra variant will adopt bold exterior details first previewed by the Formentor SUV, which will go on sale towards the end of 2020, not long after the Leon. No three-door Leon is planned at this time.
A minimalist, tech-heavy approach is used for the new Leon’s cabin, similar to that of the latest Golf and recently revealed new Skoda Octavia. The number of buttons is reduced in favour of a new infotainment system that incorporates advanced voice and gesture control.
All Leon variants once again share their platform with that of the 2020 Octavia and Volkswagen Golf. That means it uses a version of the tried-and-tested MQB architecture, evolved to be structurally stiffer and allow better packaging. Historically, the Leon has been set up to be the sportier-feeling of the Volkswagen Group trio, with stiffer spring and damper rates, and that’s due to continue with the new model.
Seat has already confirmed it will offer a range-topping plug-in hybrid Leon. It’s expected to use a 1.4-litre TSI petrol and an electric motor for 201bhp – the same as the non-GTE plug-in hybrid version of the latest Golf.
The Cupra Leon, which will be sold under the new brand banner with no Seat badging, will put out 241bhp from a more highly tuned version of the same petrol-electic unit. Expect a 0-62mph time of around 6.5sec, with a 13kWh battery allowing for an all-electric range of up to 35 miles. It will also dramatically lower the car’s CO2 output, a crucial factor to ensure Seat and Cupra meet the upcoming fleet average targets.
It is likely that the Cupra R will return as a range flagship. Although unconfirmed, reports suggest it will retain all-wheel drive and share a 300bhp-plus 2.0-litre petrol powertrain with the upcoming Golf R, rather than keep the lesser Cupra’s plug-in hybrid system. Expect it to complete the 0-62mph sprint in under five seconds.
However, such a model may be offered in limited numbers only as electrification remains the overriding priority for both brands. Design boss Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos told Autocar at a recent Cupra event that Seat plans to start production of its last internal combustion-engined model in 2026. That’s likely to mean the firm will go electric only by 2032 at the latest.