The 296 bhp petrol-powered Cupra Leon hot hatchback has gone on sale in the UK with prices starting at £35,660. Already available in 242 bhp, 1.4-litre plug-in hybrid guise, the high-performance version of Seat’s popular Leon family hatch is now powered by a 2-litre, turbocharged petrol engine that gets it from 0-62 mph in 5.7 seconds.

Offered exclusively with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, the new engine is the most powerful engine yet to grace the current-generation car. It will soon be joined by an even more potent version of the same 2-litre engine, but that will be unique to the more practical Estate model and it will come with four-wheel drive.

For now, then, the 296 bhp, front-wheel-drive hatchback is the fastest choice, offering 295 lb-ft of torque and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. And although it isn’t a key consideration for most Cupra drivers, the new Leon also promises to be more efficient than its predecessor, achieving up to 37.2 mpg on the official economy test and CO2 emissions of 171 g/km.

Cupra Leon 2.0 TSI (300 PS)

And you don’t just get a powerful engine for your hard-earned £35,660. That money buys you the VZ2 model, which comes with 19-inch machined alloy wheels, sports bumpers and a rear diffuser with oval quad exhaust pipes. Inside, there’s black roof lining and Cupra’s unique chrome and copper interior detailing, as well as bucket seats and a flat-bottomed perforated leather steering wheel.

That comes alongside a digital instrument display and a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation and the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration systems. Charging of mobile devices is taken care of by four USB-C charging ports, while occupants benefit from three-zone climate control that allows the two front-seat occupants to set their own distinct ambient temperatures, while those in the rear can select another temperature altogether.

For the driver, meanwhile, cruise control and a rear-view reversing camera are thrown in, along with keyless entry and push-button ignition. There’s also a choice of four driving modes, tailoring the car’s Dynamic Chassis Control system, steering and throttle response to suit various conditions.

If you want more equipment, the VZ3 trim starts at £37,390, and that buys aerodynamic alloy wheels, leather upholstery and a power-adjustable driving seat with memory functions. The cabin is also upgraded with the inclusion of heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and wireless phone charging.

The options list is relatively short, but customers can pick one of seven paint colours and one of three safety packs (M, L and XL). VZ3 buyers also get to choose one of two leather upholstery colours.

Gallery: Cupra Leon 2.0 TSI (300PS/296bhp)