New SEAT Leon Cupra 290 gets power hike

Our favourite hot SEAT gets more power to take on the Golf R

There’s a more powerful SEAT Lean Cupra on the way, as the Spanish manufacturer continues to chase the competition in the fiercely contested hot hatch market. Making its debut at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the Leon Cupra 290 will reach the UK by the end of the year.

SEAT has given the outgoing Leon Cupra 280 a 10bhp boost, taking power to 286bhp over the outgoing car’s 276bhp, which is just 10bhp shy of Volkswagen’s Golf R, 15bhp more than Renault’s Megane Trophy and 40bhp more than Ford’s Focus ST. The Cupra 290’s torque figure remains the same as the outgoing car at 258lb ft.

Both a six-speed manual and dual-clutch gearbox will be available with the Cupra 290, the latter resulting in a 0-62mph time of 5.7-secs and a 155mph maximum, the former time a tenth of a second quicker than the outgoing Cupra 280.

The SEAT Leon Cupra 290 comes with an electronically controlled mechanical limited slip differential as standard, the same unit that is fitted to the Skoda Octavia VRS 230. The Sub8 Performance Pack is also available as an option, bringing with it larger Brembo brakes, different wheels and ultra-high performance tyres.

The Cupra 290’s power increase is courtesy of a mild remap, but there’s also a retuned sports exhaust to boost the sound track. Visually only the Cupra 290 badge on the tailgate gives the game away.

Being the range topper the Cupra 290 comes well stocked with standard kit, including dynamic chassis control, LED front and rear light, alcantara sports seats and Cupra steering wheel, and what Seat calls Cupra Drive Profile, which offers three modes – Comfort, Sport and Cupra – that allow you to switch between different throttle and, where fitted, DSG shift modes.

The outgoing SEAT Leon Cupra 280 was one of our favourite hot hatches and a bit of cult hero because of the unassuming way it went about its business of being an engaging and driver-focussed hatch. Recent wheel time in the Sub8 Ultimate model has reinforced how good the Leon Cupra range is, and while 10bhp may not be a quantum leap in power output it will be another layer of polish to one of sector’s best hot hatches.

Prices have yet to be announced for the SEAT Leon Cupra 290, but expect it to be close to the Cupra 280’s £27,210 list price. We expect order books to open in November.

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