The Leon has been an important car for SEAT for several decades, as an all-important family hatchback rival for the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
While there was always a Leon CUPRA available, albeit with a SEAT badge, more recently you’ve been able to get a CUPRA Leon too as its own separate model line.
But what are the differences between the CUPRA Leon and the SEAT Leon? Let’s take a look at some of the changes.
Though the SEAT Leon is already a stylish model of its own accord, the CUPRA version is noticeably sportier to look at. Each shares the same key design details, including a coat-to-coast LED light bar, along with angular LED headlights and aggressive crease lines.
The Cupra model gets noticeably more angular looks, though, with redesigned bumpers to give it a much more aggressive appearance, along with a more pronounced grille design. There are specific CUPRA colours available too, along with copper detailing – a staple colour for the Spanish performance brand – and various specific alloy wheel designs.
Previously the CUPRA Leon was only available with more powerful petrol engines, but more recently things have got a bit more confusing as CUPRA has introduced more ‘normal’ powertrains to the Leon, too.
On the CUPRA Leon, the engine range includes a 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine and a choice of 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines producing 187bhp, 242bhp and 296bhp. There’s also a 242bhp plug-in hybrid version of the CUPRA Leon available.
Meanwhile, on SEAT’s Leon, the only engine shared with the CUPRA is the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol unit. In addition, you can have a detuned version making 128bhp, along with an entry-level 108bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit. A key difference is that you’re still able to get a diesel engine with the Seat Leon too – the impressive 2.0-litre TDI that is ideal for high-mileage drivers.
With the CUPRA Leon being pitched as a sportier, upmarket model, there’s quite a noticeable difference in the level of equipment available on both the SEAT and CUPRA models.
It must be said that even an entry-level SEAT Leon gets a decent level of equipment, including an 8.25-inch touchscreen with full wireless smartphone integration, LED headlights, rear parking sensors and keyless entry.
But with the CUPRA, you get quite a lot more kit, including a large 12-inch media screen, dynamic turn signals, large 18-inch alloy wheels and a reversing camera.
Another key difference between the SEAT Leon and CUPRA Leon is the price. The SEAT version is billed as a more affordable, mainstream product, while the CUPRA is instead a sportier model that looks to feel a bit more special.
For example, the most affordable SEAT Leon is available from £23,335, while even the cheapest Cupra Leon will set you back £30,455. The difference isn’t quite so steep if you compare a like-for-like model though – a SEAT Leon FR with the 1.5-litre petrol engine is £28,445.