New Cupra Leon: family car gets a 62-mile PHEV option and a revised exterior

Changes apply to both the hatchback and estate versions of the new Cupra Leon, with updates aiming to improve both performance and usability...

2024 Cupra Leon front static

On sale September 2024 | Price from £33,000 (est)

A simple rebrand can bring many benefits to a business, including increased recognition and a distinction from rivals. This, then, could be the driving force behind the revisions to the Cupra Leon, which gains a new ‘shark-nose’ front end, triangular LED headlights and an illuminated Cupra logo at the rear, all of which aim to give the car a new identity.

The reason for this design change is simple, because the outgoing Cupra Leon has a near identical exterior to the Seat Leon. Indeed, both cars share the same underpinnings, although the Cupra has a tweaked suspension set-up and a more powerful range of engines to make it more engaging to drive. 

2024 Cupra Leon nose static

As with the Seat Leon, the Cupra Leon is closely related to the Skoda Octavia and VW Golf, with each brand being owned by Volkswagen Group. Other rivals include the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the latter of which we named our 2024 Family Car of the Year.

Powering the new Leon is a range of petrol, mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid engine options. The entry-level engine is a familiar 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol unit, which drives the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. A new mild hybrid version of this engine is also offered; it produces the same power, but instead uses a seven-speed automatic gearbox, a small electric motor and battery to help improve fuel economy (it can switch off the engine while coasting, for example, but it can’t run on electric power alone). Both of these 1.5-litre engines are offered with the hatchback and estate.

2024 Cupra Leon rear static

For the hatchback, the same punchy 296bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine is carried over from the outgoing car. It drives all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox, and performance is as spritely as you’d expect; 0-62mph takes just 5.7sec, which is the same as the Ford Focus ST.

The estate, meanwhile, gets two unique engine options; a 201bhp or 329bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine, both of which are seven-speed auto and four-wheel drive only. The latter engine, called VZ (short for Veloz, which is Spanish for fast), has an updated Cupra drive mode, which allows for quicker gearchanges and faster engine response. On top of that, there’s also a Drift mode, which allows full power to be directed to one rear wheel for improved, yet more playful cornering. Full performance details for these two versions are yet to be confirmed, but we can expect 0-62mph times of around 6.5sec and 5.0sec respectively.

2024 Cupra Leon Estate rear static

If you want a bit less punch, as well as the option of running on electric power, two new plug-in hybrid models are available for the hatchback and estate. Both use a 1.5-litre petrol engine (which replaces the old 1.4-litre engine) and an electric motor that combined to produce 201bhp or 268bhp, while a 19.7kWh (usable) battery delivers an official electric-only range of 62 miles for both versions. That’s the same distance the new Golf eHybrid can manage. 

On range-topping versions, the Cupra Leon is available with an adaptive suspension system, which allows you to adjust the suspension set-up depending on the road conditions you’re on. The drive modes for this include Comfort, Sport, Cupra and Individual (the latter mode is configurable so you can fine-tune the suspension set-up via the infotainment system).

2024 Cupra Leon interior

Inside, the design of the interior is almost identical to the outgoing version, bar a larger 12.9in central touchscreen (up from 12.0in) with an updated infotainment system. The biggest change for that includes a new operating system, which allows for a simplified and customisable layout of the home screen and a quicker response time. The touch-sensitive sliders for the climate and volume controls are also now backlit for driving at night; this is good news, although the physical buttons and dials you get with the Civic are easier to use while driving. 

Full UK specifications for the Leon are yet to be confirmed, but we can expect prices to start from around £33,000 for the hatchback, which is more than what the Corolla and Golf will cost you, but less than the Civic. An uplift of around £1000 is expected for the estate.

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