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Cupra Leon line up revised with new Design Edition trims

With the addition of new Design Edition models, Cupra’s hot hatch now starts from £30,455

The Leon was the second car to launch under the Cupra name and is pitched as a sporty rival to fellow VW Group product, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, while also featuring a wider variety of less-powerful engines. Cupra has now redefined the Leon range for 2023 with a new selection of Design Edition trim levels. 

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These new changes are likely to be the final amendment to the Cupra Leon range ahead of an expected mid-life facelift due next year. We’ve spotted the new Cupra Leon testing on the public road in estate guise, with a redesigned front end. 

As for the latest revisions to the range, the existing entry-level model has gone from ‘VZ1’ to ‘V1’, with prices starting from £30,455. V1 Design Edition models come in at £32,055 and feature new 18-inch black and copper wheels. VZ2 Design Edition replaces VZ2 and starts from £37,980 and VZ3 Design Edition replaces VZ3 and starts at £43,505, both gaining 19-inch black satin and copper alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, black side skirts and a black roof spoiler. These changes are replicated in the Cupra Leon Estate range, too. 

Other than this, the Cupra Leon range remains unchanged, aside from pricing increasing across the line up. The cheapest Cupra Leon V1 is powered by a 148bhp turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine and six-speed manual gearbox that’s familiar from many other VW Group models. The V1 is also offered with a 1.5-litre mild-hybrid eTSI, again with 148bhp, but with a seven-speed DSG automatic. A third V1 engine comes in the form of a 187bhp 2.0-litre mild-hybrid petrol with a DSG ‘box. The V1 Design Edition gets the same array of powertrains as the V1 although the 2.0-litre is a non-hybrid. 

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Cupra is also offering the Leon with its e-Hybrid plug-in powertrain. It’s priced from £40,160 in V2 Design Edition trim and is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, and a 13kWh battery that feeds an electric motor. Combined, the system has an output of 242bhp and 400Nm of torque.

Drive goes through a six-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels, but despite the PHEV’s extra torque, the extra weight also means that the 0-62mph time drops to 6.7 seconds. Top speed stands at 140mph. 

More importantly, the engine will return up to 217.3mpg on the WLTP cycle, with emissions as low as 29g/km of CO2. The Cupra Leon e-Hybrid’s battery pack also allows for up to 36 miles of electric-only travel. When connected to a wallbox charger, the unit will recover a full charge in around four hours.

The next version up in the Cupra Leon range is the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol model, which has 242bhp and 370Nm of torque for a claimed 0-62mph time of 6.4 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

However, where the Volkswagen Golf GTI comes as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, the Cupra Leon is only available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. It’s also exclusive to the V2 Design Edition.

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This engine upgrade brings some interior benefits, such as pair of sports 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 rear-view camera.

V2 Design Edition models feature equipment upgrades that include 19-inch alloy wheels and adaptive dampers, which can be customised using Cupra’s Dynamic Chassis Control system via the infotainment screen. 

The fastest model in the Cupra Leon hatchback’s line-up is the 2.0 TSI 300 - only available with V3 Design Edition specification. 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 VW 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 up to 37.2mpg with CO2 emissions of 171g/km. Prices start from £44,025 for the 2.0 TSI 300 and brings a unique set of 19-inch alloys, heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat and a wireless smartphone charger.

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Cupra’s V3 Design Edition trim is also available on the PHEV Leon e-Hybrid, priced from £43,505. Both cars can be specified with a couple of optional extras, too, such as petrol blue Nappa leather upholstery, a panoramic roof and a choice of seven paint finishes.

For those after a little more performance, Cupra also offers a more potent version of its 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine on the Leon Estate. Here, the unit has 306bhp and, thanks in part to the addition of four-wheel drive, it’ll propel the car from 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds. Prices start from £46,885.

Cupra Leon: design and interior

The new Cupra Leon was designed, engineered and assembled at the firm’s purpose built facility in Martorell near Barcelona. It will face rivals like the Hyundai i30 N and Ford Focus ST, as well as competition from within the Volkswagen Group, including 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 estate models, which is complemented by a 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 offering eight per cent more aerodynamic efficiency 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.

A 12.3-inch digital instrument panel is also fitted, 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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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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