Just weeks after SEAT launched its most economical Leon to date in the shape of the latest Ecomotive the stylish Spanish brand is teeing up the showroom debut of its most potent Leon yet: the awesome Cupra R.
While the green-themed new Ecomotive with its road tax-busting CO2 rating of just 99g/km is all about economy and environmental responsibility the 265 PS Cupra R is, undeniably, aimed at ultra-hot hatch enthusiasts with high octane fuel coursing through their veins.
Storming into UK showrooms now, and due to face the glare of the nation’s motoring media at a launch event in the next few days, the latest Leon is nothing less than the most powerful SEAT yet offered for sale in the brand’s 25-year UK history.
That 265 PS power peak is the product of a tuned2.0-litre, four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine – revised by the engineers at SEAT’s state-of-the-art Technical Centre in Martorell to make it more potent, even, than the current Leon Cupra which is good for a still impressive 240 PS from its 2.0-litre powerplant.
The 16V petrol engine features a new, high-pressure fuel pump injector to satisfy the greater performance demands and allow it to meet strict EU5 emissions standards while revisions to the electronic engine management system, plus increased maximum turbo pressure (1.9 bar at max output and 2.2 bar at max torque, versus 1.8 bar for the 240 PS 2.0-litre TSI in Leon Cupra) complete the powerplant changes beneath the SEAT’s svelte ‘clamshell’ bonnet.
The torque generated by the new Cupra R’s refined and willing engine is, arguably, even more impressive than its power peak. No less than 350 Nm is on offer at just 2,500 rpm – that’s a full 50 Nm more than the already muscular Leon Cupra.
Naturally, the challenge of harnessing all this urge in a front-wheel drive set-up has been comprehensively met by SEAT’s engineers who have applied a host of effective yet unobtrusive aids to the task.
XDS – SEAT’s clever electronic system which uses enhanced ABS functionality to mimic the operation of a traditional limited slip differential – ESP stability control, TCS traction control and EBA emergency braking assistance are among the new car’s standard-fit kit and work together to help keep things on the straight and narrow.
The result? Near-supercar levels of acceleration and performance. The benchmark 0-62 mph dash is dispatched in only 6.2 seconds while, where legal, Leon Cupra R drivers can thence press onward to a top speed of 155 mph. Impressive stuff.
As impressive, perhaps, is the new Leon’s frugality. Combined economy of 34.9 mpg and CO2 limited to just 190 g/km make the newcomer among the ‘greenest’ ultra-hot hatches around. Not green enough to qualify for the brand’s Ecomotive badge, of course, but markedly more environmentally responsible than a number of rivals which have CO2 emissions of 220 g/km and above.
The Cupra R’s standard six-speed manual gearbox has not escaped the development engineers’ attention either: modifications include a shorter ‘throw’ (down by six millimetres) to help the driver achieve even faster changes.
As stylish as it is swift, the latest Leon has undergone a number of bespoke styling modifications, inside and out, to elevate its kerbside appeal and deliver the necessary air of exclusivity demanded by what will be an elite hot hatch.
Among the changes are the addition of sporty twin central exit exhaust pipes within a customised rear diffuser, discreet extended high level rear spoiler, subtle ‘R’ badging and the careful application of gloss black highlighting inside and out.
The new ebony black front seatbacks even give rear seat occupants a taste of the Cupra R cabin upgrade, while the prominent ‘R’ logo incorporated on the seatbacks leaves no one in any doubt about the identity of this super-quick SEAT.
Mighty 19-inch ‘Potenza’ wheels, available in traditional silver alloy or contemporary white finish, mark out the ‘R’ as something extra special and ensure the car becomes the first SEAT model to use 19-inch wheels on this platform.
UK pricing for the new Leon Cupra R is confirmed at £25,205, production is limited to around 500 in a full year, and the first customer cars are due to be delivered within weeks.
Welcoming the long-awaited arrival of SEAT’s most powerful model to date the brand’s UK Product Marketing Manager, Andy Medcraft, said: ‘The Leon Cupra R is a special car for us not just because it is the most powerful, fastest and most extreme production model we have yet made.
‘It also clearly illustrates what makes SEAT stand out from the crowd, and is our brand’s familiar ‘auto emoción’ slogan made metal.
‘We’re anticipating a huge surge of interest around the showroom debut of this exclusive car and I know our dealers nationwide can’t wait to welcome it.’