Seat spin-off brand Cupra has cut the price of its Leon hatchback by introducing a new entry-level model with a 1.5-litre engine. With 148 bhp, the new model doesn’t have the performance of the more potent 2.0-litre examples, but it brings the five-door hatchback’s asking price below the £30,000 mark.
The new base-spec powertrain is identical to the 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine found in the Seat Leon range, and it’s the first Cupra to come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. However, customers can upgrade to the seven-speed automatic for an extra £2,140 if they so wish.
Either way, customers get 148 bhp at the disposal of their right foot, and all that power goes to the front wheels alone. That set-up allows a 0-62 mph time of 8.9 seconds with the manual gearbox, although the seven-speed automatic cuts two tenths from that time.
The engine will also return between 44.8 and 47.9 mpg on the combined WLTP cycle, regardless of which gearbox is fitted, while both emit similar amounts of carbon dioxide. That said, the 134 g/km emissions of the manual model make it slightly cheaper in terms of company car tax, despite the automatic emitting just 1 g/km more.
The new engine will only be available with the entry-level V1 trim level, which still comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and a 12-inch navigation system with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration technology. Three-zone climate control, sport seats and keyless entry all feature as standard, too, along with a digital instrument display and parking sensors at the front and rear.
Customers do, however, get a choice of colours, with white, grey and black options joined by Desire Red and Petrol Blue. There’s also a choice of optional extras, including a £120 space saver spare wheel and a £1,035 panoramic sunroof.
Later this year, Cupra has promised to add the new 148 bhp engine to the Leon Estate line-up, and it’s also planning a more powerful 2.0-litre engine to bridge the gap between the newcomer and the established, more powerful motors. That 188 bhp unit will be available exclusively with an automatic gearbox, but Cupra has not given us any idea of which trim levels the new engine will be offered with.
The 1.5-litre, 148 bhp engine, however, is available to order now, but Cupra has not said when it expects the first cars to arrive with customers.