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SEAT Leon Cupra becomes even more powerful. Image by SEAT.

SEAT Leon Cupra becomes even more powerful
SEAT adds 10hp to its Leon Cupra hot hatch flagship and widens the torque curve too.
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What's all this about?

SEAT has lobbed another 10hp at the Leon Cupra hot hatch.

Did it really need extra power?

No, not at all. It's one of our favourite hot hatches anyway and it even makes sense as a 265, but who's going to argue with a headline output of 290hp for the range-topping Cupra?

Not me - does it improve performance?

Not on paper, although SEAT says it is quicker round a track than before, so the Nürburgring front-wheel drive production lap record could be in the Spanish carmaker's sights once more. However, for pub boasting, everything remains the same: 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds for the DSG and 5.8 seconds for the manual (both six-speed transmissions), top speed pegged to 155mph and fuel economy staying at 42.8mpg.

So are there any benefits to the 290?

Yes, its torque curve (or should we say plateau?) has been broadened, the same 350Nm as before now delivered across 1,700- to 5,800rpm, instead of 1,750- to 5,300rpm on the 280 predecessor. This, along with reduced friction internals, might be what accounts for a 5g/km drop in CO2 emissions on the DSG 290. Not much, you might think, but enough to see the Leon Cupra drop from 154- to 149g/km - and with it, shift down a VED rating to Band F from G, saving owners £35 a year on tax.

How do I spot one?

Unless the owner has de-badged it, look for '290' on the Cupra's boot logo and keep your ears tuned, as the exhaust system has been recalibrated for a sportier sound. The Sub8 Performance Pack (Brembo callipers plus different wheels in sticky track-focused rubber) remains an option and the Cupra still comes with Dynamic Chassis Control, a front differential lock, progressive steering and Cupra Drive Profile settings as standard.

Matt Robinson - 7 Sep 2015

2015 SEAT Leon Cupra 290. Image by SEAT.2015 SEAT Leon Cupra 290. Image by SEAT.2015 SEAT Leon Cupra 290. Image by SEAT.2015 SEAT Leon Cupra 290. Image by SEAT.    - SEAT road tests
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