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Seat Leon Cupra muscles up with new 290 model

Published: 08 September 2015

► Leon Cupra gains 10bhp
► Broader torque range
► More equipment as standard

Seat's engineers have gone well and truly power mad recently. The Ibiza Cupra hot hatch got a giant power upgrade last week, and now it’s the turn of its big brother, the Seat Leon Cupra. Called the Leon Cupra 290, power now sits at a rudely healthy 286bhp (the 290 label comes from the car's metric ps output), up from the 276bhp Cupra 280 that previously topped the range.

Retaining the same 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine, maximum torque output remains at 258lb ft. The biggest change, however, comes from how that torque is delivered, with the full amount being dished out from 1700rpm right the way to 5800rpm. This results in a 0.2sec shaving from the 0-62mph sprint compared with the old Cupra 280, says Seat. 

Seat Leon Cupra 290: the spec

With power comes responsibility, and that couldn’t be truer with the Cupra 290. Seat's also upgraded the fuel injection system, enabling a quoted 42.8mpg - not a bad figure for the performance, even if you'd need to drive with the lightest of touches to achieve it in practise.

An adjusted front-axle differential lock helps to combat the 286bhp being pushed through the front wheels. But to take the Cupra 290 to the max, says Seat, you really need the optional 'Sub8' Performance Pack (a reference to the Leon 280's sub 8-minute Nurburgring Nordschleife lap time), bringing bigger Brembo brake callipers, lighter alloy wheels and softer tyres.

As before, switchable driving profiles can change the Cupra 290's power steering, throttle and damper settings, together with a valve-opening exhaust system. Think of the profiles more like ASBO settings, with ‘Cupra mode’ unleashing full yobbo behaviour and a suitably riotous exhaust note to accompany it. 

Since it steps in as the Leon's range-topping model, the Cupra 290 gets plenty of equipment as standard, including a 6.5in touchscreen with sat-nav, full LED lights all round and alcantara trim for the seats and steering wheel.

No prices for the 290 have been released by Seat just yet, but expect to pay a premium over the 280 - torque isn't always cheap.

By Matt Bell

Former digital intern at CAR

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