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New sporty Seat Cupra Leon is unveiled – with powerful new engines and a plug-in hybrid option

Seat’s performance wing has released a sports-focused new version of the Leon hatchback – with up to 306bhp on offer to keep petrolheads happy.

The Cupra Leon also comes with a plug-in hybrid powertrain that will travel for up to 37 miles on electric power alone.

Cupra is the high-performance motorsport division of Seat, which rose out of the Spanish manufacturer’s old “Seat Special Vehicles Department’ dating back to 1971.

It currently produces sporty versions of Seat cars, including the Leon hatch and Ateca SUV, and rally vehicles like the Cupra E-Racer race car, at a purpose-built plant near Barcelona.

The new Seat Cupra Leon is a rival to performance-orientated cars like the Ford Focus ST, VW Golf GTi, Skoda Octavia vRS and Hyundai i20N. It’s been made for many years and has become a Seat favourite.

Two body styles of the new Cupra Leon are available – five-door and estate – with high levels of standard equipment including full LED front and rear lamps, rear coast-to-coast lighting, bucket seats, sports suspension, keyless entry and ambient lighting.

“The Leon CUPRA has been a bestseller, with close to 44,000 units sold in the last generation”, said Wayne Griffiths, Cupra CEO.

“With the launch of the new Cupra Leon, we will strengthen the Cupra brand, by giving a new identity to a very emblematic car. The new Cupra Leon is the King of Leons.”

The 2.0 litre TSI petrol engines are available in 245PS, 300PS and 310PS (exclusively available for the estate) power outputs to deliver real on-the-road performance.

An electrified 245PS plug-in hybrid variant is also available. Available in both the hatchback and estate variants, the Cupra Leon eHybrid is powered by a 150PS, 250Nm 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine; a 115PS (85kW) electric motor; and 13kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Together these provide 245PS (180kW) of peak power and 400Nm of torque.

The eHybrid has an electric-only range of up to 37 miles to silently travel through streets or through city centres.

The battery can be recharged in 3.5 hours using a 3.6kW AC wall box (or six hours from 230V domestic socket).

The new Cupra Leon is also available in a selection of turbocharged, direct-injection petrol powerplants.

Customers can choose either the 245PS and 370Nm or the 300PS and 400Nm variant.

Both versions are front-wheel drive, available in both five-door and estate body styles, and integrate an electronic limited slip differential.

The system takes readings from numerous sources: steering angle, wheel speed and yaw, to provide reassurance in dynamic driving scenarios.

The most powerful engine in the line-up is the 310PS/400Nm 2-litre TSI turbocharged petrol engine, found exclusively in the estate version.

The new Cupra Leon can accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds before heading on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. All engine variants are mated to a Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) dual-clutch transmission.

Suspension comes in the form of MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a rear multi-link system. Large 370mm Brembo brakes are on hand to stop you when required. A 4Drive all-wheel drive system helps with the driving dynamics.

The design cues are impressive, with the car looking more planted and visually more aggressive.

Compared with the Seat Leon, the Cupra Leon sits 25mm lower on the front axle and 20mm lower at the rear, meaning a lower centre of gravity.

The Cupra logo sits boldly on the front grille, with a large front splitter and larger air intakes highlighting its more assertive look. Side skirts add dynamism and visually lower the vehicle.

At the rear the coast-to-coast lights, four exhausts (two dual) (two individual on 245PS variants), a diffuser and spoiler add to the car’s sporting appeal.

The additional exterior details aren’t purely added for aesthetics, they also serve to make the Cupra Leon more aerodynamic than its predecessor.

Inside, the cabin gets the sporty treatment, with buckets seats, a large, central 10-inch infotainment touchscreen, compact DSG shifter and copper and dark chrome detailing.

As you’d expect at the top end of the Leon range, there’s a full suite of the latest Seat connectivity, infotainment and driver safety assists.

There’s no word on price or exact UK spec, but the Leon Cupra can be pre-ordered on the Cupra website.

Belfast Telegraph