Seat is busy prepping its new Leon Cupra hot hatch, which will outgun its VW Golf GTI cousin for power but undercut the Volkswagen on price. The version you see here is the sporty three-door SC model, but CAR sources have confirmed Seat will offer a five-door Cupra hot hatch, and for the first time, a Leon Cupra estate too.
How can you tell this is a Seat Leon Cupra?
The usual hot hatch giveaways rumble this Leon Cupra mule, seen undergoing testing at the Nurburging. Under the 19-inch alloys (you’ll recognise the design from the VW Golf R and Scirocco R – showroom cars will get bespoke rims) this Leon is running larger brake discs with red callipers. At the back, there are big tailpipes bookending the rear bumper, instead of the Leon’s usual left-mounted pipes.
This car is badged as a top-spec FR model, but you can expect the production-ready Leon Cupra to boast a more extrovert bodykit, and extra Cupra-trademark vents around the front grille.
Seat’s new Leon Cupra: the spec
Under the bonnet, the Leon Cupra is set to use a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, developing around 260bhp. That’s up with the output of the old Leon Cupra R model, and follows the trend for Seat offering more power in its hot hatches than its VW or Skoda brethren. A flagship Leon Cupra R could arrive later in this Leon’s life cycle, offering around 280bhp to trump the Vauxhall Astra VXR. An estate version to rival the 247bhp Ford Focus ST estate is also on the cards – confusingly, Seat badges its wagon models as ‘ST’, for Sports Tourer.
The Cupra range will be front-wheel drive only, and use six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch transmissions. The last-gen hot Leons used an electronically-controlled ESP programme to brake the inside front wheel during tricky cornering, but the new car could borrow the proper mechanical limited slip-differential hardware that VW is offering in the new 227bhp Golf GTI Performance pack.
Expect to see the Leon Cupra in production trim by the end of 2013, with sales starting in spring 2014. That gives the VW Golf GTI Mk7 a year’s head-start on the sales chart, but it’s likely the Leon Cupra will undercut the Golf’s £25,845 entry-level price.