Cupra Leon line-up gains 242bhp petrol engine

The Cupra Leon range has expanded with a new turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, which lowers the car’s starting price to £31,460

Cupra has launched a new 2.0-litre petrol engine for its Leon hot hatchback. The new unit lowers the car’s starting price to £31,460 which, to phrase in a different way, is exactly £2,000 cheaper than the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI on which it’s based.

The new turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 242bhp and 370Nm of torque. Cupra says that’s enough to propel the Leon from 0–62mph in 6.4 seconds, before the hatchback runs into its electronic speed limiter at 155mph. However, unlike its Volkswagen Group siblings that use the same chassis and engine, the Leon is only available with a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

Buyers have a choice of two trim-levels with the new engine: VZ1 and VZ2. The cheapest model comes as standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, an aggressive body kit, a twin-exit exhaust, black brake calipers and Cupra’s trademark copper-coloured trim highlights.

Inside, there’s a pair of bucket seats, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, three-zone climate control, illuminated treadplates and a customisable ambient lighting system. Buyers also get a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10-inch infotainment system, with a feed connected to a rear-view camera.

VZ2 models get a couple of upgrades, such as 19-inch alloy wheels and adaptive dampers, which can be customised using a Volkswagen-derived dynamic chassis control system via the infotainment screen. Prices start from £32,695.

Above the 2.0-litre petrol model sits the Cupra Leon e-Hybrid PHEV. It’s priced from £35,000 and powered by a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, an electric motor and a 13kWh battery pack. Combined, the system has an output of 242bhp and 400Nm of torque.

The powertrain sends drive through a six-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels, and Cupra says the unit has enough grunt for a 0–62mph time of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. More importantly, the engine will return up to 217.3mpg on the WLTP cycle, with emissions as low as 30g/km of CO2.

The Cupra Leon e-Hybrid’s battery pack can also store enough power for up to 32 miles of electric-only travel. When connected to an AC wallbox charger, the unit will recover a full charge in around four hours.

Currently, the fastest model in the Cupra Leon line-up is the 2.0 TSI 300. It’s powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as the Golf GTI Clubsport, which produces 296bhp and 400Nm of torque. Like its Volkswagen-branded cousin, the Leon is front-wheel drive and only available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

Cupra says the 296bhp unit gives the Leon a 0–62mph time of 5.7 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph. The engine also offers decent efficiency given its performance figures, with the brand claiming it’ll return up 37.2mpg with CO2 emissions of 171g/km.

Prices for the Cupra Leon 2.0 TSI 300 start from £36,760 as, in addition to the extra power, the car gets a slightly better equipped trim-level, called VZ3. Standard equipment includes a unique set of 19-inch alloys, heated leather, a heated steering wheel, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat and a wireless phone charger. 

The trim-level is also available on the plug-in Leon e-Hybrid, where it’s priced from £36,730. Both cars can be specified with a couple of optional extras, too, such as petrol blue Nappa leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof and a choice of seven paint finishes.

However, there’s more to come, as Cupra has reserved a more potent version of its 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine for the upcoming Leon Estate. Here, the unit will produce 306bhp which, thanks in part to the addition of four-wheel drive, will give the hottest Cupra Leon a 0–62mph time of 4.8 seconds. Prices will be confirmed towards the end of the year.

New 2021 Cupra Leon: design and interior

The new Cupra Leon was designed, engineered and assembled at the firm’s new purpose built facility in Martorell near Barcelona – and it will face up against rivals like the Hyundai i30N and Ford Focus ST. However, it’ll also need to fend off competition from within the Volkswagen Group, in the shape of the Skoda Octavia vRS and Volkswagen Golf GTI.

From the outside, the Cupra Leon certainly sports a more menacing look than its SEAT relative – and not just because of the two unique matte paint finishes available. The front bumper has a large open air dam, plus a new copper-coloured logo on its grille.

There’s a distinctive full-width rear light bar on both the five-door hatchback and upcoming estate models, which is complemented by a new rear bumper that houses a pair of copper-trimmed tailpipes and a deep rear diffuser. According to Cupra, the changes also improve the Leon’s aerodynamic performance, with this latest model being eight percent more aerodynamically efficient than the previous version.

The car’s ride height has been dropped by 25mm at the front and 20mm at the rear over the standard SEAT Leon, while an adaptive damping system can adjust the rate of suspension response based on the car’s driving mode.

There’s a new electric power steering system, too, which Cupra says is its “most progressive yet,” and Brembo has supplied a larger set of 370mm disc brakes for the hot hatchback’s front axle, which are gripped by black calipers.

Inside, the copper theme continues, with highlights on the seat stitching (there’s two types of sports seats to choose from), air vent surrounds, and the steering wheel. The wheel itself is similar in design to the SEAT Leon’s, but gains two new switches – a starter button, and a toggle switch to swap between the car’s four drive modes.

Volkswagen’s 12.3-inch digital instrument panel also makes it onto the Cupra Leon, albeit with a new “Sport” menu view, which places the rev counter prominently to the centre of the driver’s view, while showing power, torque G-force and turbo boost readouts.

Now check out all the latest news on the upcoming, all-electric Cupra Tavascan

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