A new sport exhaust for the five-door and SC Cupras for 2016 opens up a shouty new bellow on throttle — and ramps up max power by about 10 ponies.
The wagon appears to miss out on the new sport exhaust — but is bumped up to 290 all the same. Vmax? 156MPH! 0-60? 5.7-seconds on its best day, and 6.2-ish like clockwork on other days. Both are a half-second beyond what the fastest GTI can deliver.
As before on the Cupra 280, this wagon/coupe/hatch family is the quickest front-drive production car to ever lap the Nurburgring. Standard LED lighting all around, customizable colors and locking differential set the Leon Cupras far beyond the standard-fare Golf GTI in 2016. Of course, that GTI is also down about 80 horsepower versus its Spanish cousins. Yet pricing for all has been near-identical.
The value and chic style of the Leon Cupras make it a no-brainer for many shoppers. This sportier exhaust update and available 2016 Performance Pack only reinforce that strong position for the SEAT triplets.
Seat’s CUPRA range is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016 via this 290 flagship.
And the proof of how close the Cupra 290 is to the Eurocup racecar version? That car is only up about 40 ponies versus the new 290!
2016 SEAT Leon CUPRA 290
Martorell, 15/02/2016 – One of the best sports cars for everyday use now offers even more power and even more emotion. The CUPRA 290, the highly successful top version of the Leon range, now delivers 213 kW / 290 PS, guaranteeing outstanding performance paired with excellent efficiency. The stunning design, individual equipment options and excellent quality are further points that make the Leon CUPRA a very special proposition indeed. In true SEAT fashion, exceptional value-for-money is, of course, a given.
Among journalists and customers alike, the SEAT Leon CUPRA is much admired as a Sport Coupé, as a five-door and as a Sports Tourer. In the trade media cross Europe, the CUPRA immediately became a consistent winner in comparison tests; its owners love its design and road manners, as well as its premium look-and-feel.
“CUPRA is the essence of the SEAT brand and we continue to nurture and refine this icon,” says Luca de Meo, President of SEAT S.A. “The new CUPRA 290 displays SEAT expertise in full dimension. It’s a refined, high-performance vehicle that combines its expressive dynamics with relaxed long-distance comfort and compelling quality.”
A concentrated package of hi-tech guarantees the enormous performance of the new Leon CUPRA 290. At the top is the 2.0 TSI engine with dual injection and variable camshaft timing and an output of 213 kW / 290 PS. The DCC dynamic chassis control, front differential lock, progressive steering, CUPRA Drive Profile and standard-fit full-LED headlamps are further examples of its state-of-the-art technologies.
The new exhaust system developed for the SC and 5D CUPRA 290, is not only considerably lighter, it also has a lower back pressure, which contributes to the increased performance. Above all, however, it delivers a thrilling, natural sound – powerful and finely modulated to engine speed. It makes driving a CUPRA an even more emotional experience.
“The CUPRA 290 offers the best possible combination of sporty dynamics, relaxed comfort and unique style,” says Dr. Matthias Rabe, Vice President of Research and Development for SEAT S.A. “The continuous development and improvement of our top models shows how much CUPRA drivers matter to us. They are getting an even more emotional car, with better performance and a completely new sound.”
The Design – emotional and powerful
The design language of the Leon has been extremely well received by customers. As one of the most important reasons for purchase, it forms the foundation for the great success of the new Leon family. This design language was systematically developed to the next stage for the Leon CUPRA, with a new kind of balance between power and elegance. Powerful elements, particularly at the front and rear, indicate the high performance of the top Leon model from the very first glance.
The alloy wheels have an exclusive design, while red callipers and tinted side and rear windows underscore the individuality of the CUPRA. The CUPRA 290 is visually differentiated by its unique 19-inch wheels with a titanium bicolour paint finish, the Aerodynamic Pack with the spoiler on the rear roof edge emphasises the stretched lines and sporty character, as do the black exterior mirror housings and CUPRA lettering on the brake callipers.
Style and quality inside
The accentuated dynamics of the exterior continues seamlessly in the interior of the SEAT Leon CUPRA. It is distinguished by the CUPRA sports steering wheel, with its exclusive, flat-bottomed design. Thanks to its expertly applied padding and grippy, partially perforated leather cladding, it enhances the sporty, precise handling characteristics. Likewise exclusive to the CUPRA are the top sports seats clad in dark grey Alcantara with white stitching. Options include bucket seats with extremely good lateral grip. Pedals and door sills are finished in aluminium. The trim elements in the cockpit are finished in gloss black (also available in classic chrome).
Fine details underscore the high level of craftsmanship in the Leon CUPRA – details like the precisely placed, contrasting stitching on the steering wheel and gear knob, the clearly laid-out controls for the air conditioning and the three-dimensional form of the trim elements. All surfaces have soft-touch finishes, giving a fine, tactile feedback to every touch. One particular feature in the CUPRA interior is the ambient lighting. LEDs in the door panels emphasize the contours of the interior design and add to the premium feel of the passenger compartment.
The Drive – top performance included
CUPRA stands for power, performance, dynamics – and the Leon CUPRA fulfils all these promises perfectly. The CUPRA 290 with manual gearbox or optional DSG reach a regulated top speed of 250 km/h. The maximum torque of 350 Newton meters is now available across an even broader rev range from 1,700 to 5,800 rpm and guarantees impressive pulling power in every situation. Against this, the new Leon CUPRA 290 is astonishingly efficient. The average fuel consumption for both power variants is just 6.5 litres with DSG and 6.7 litres with the Leon SC manual gearbox. This equates to CO2 figures of just 149 and 156 grams (Leon SC).
The performance of the Leon CUPRA 290 can be raised even further with the optional Performance pack, which includes a set of Brembo brake calipers, an exclusive wheel design and special tyres.
Hi-tech engine components
As a true sports engine, the 2.0 TSI reacts spontaneously to every movement of the gas pedal and is deliciously high revving. The power unit with its exceptionally responsive turbocharger is packed full with hi-tech and groundbreaking features. One of these is additional indirect injection, which complements the FSI direct fuel injection under partial load. This reduces consumption and particulate emissions. FSI injection kicks in on start-up and at higher loads.
Transmission – manual or DSG
In the new Leon CUPRA, a standard manual six-speed gearbox with a lightweight magnesium housing is responsible for transmitting engine power. As an alternative, SEAT offers the DSG. As with the manual gearbox, the lower gears have short ratios, while the sixth gear has a high ratio for lower fuel consumption. The high degree of efficiency is another feature that is common to both.
The Chassis – hi-tech for precision and dynamics
CUPRA has always been synonymous with outstanding dynamics, precise agility and amazing sporting character. The new Leon CUPRA, however, manages to set the bar a good deal higher – in every dimension.
• DCC dynamic chassis control
The new generation of the DCC dynamic chassis control developed specifically for the CUPRA is even more sensitive and responsive, adapting the chassis characteristics to the prevailing conditions in a matter of milliseconds.
• Front-axle differential lock
The limited slip differential lock significantly improves the traction and handling of this front-wheel-drive car. The system uses a multi-plate package that is hydraulically actuated and electronically controlled. It improves not only the traction, but also eliminates torque steer. Furthermore, its sensitive control has no negative impact on steering feel.
• Progressive steering
Also included as standard equipment, the progressive steering improves the agile handling of the new Leon CUPRA even further. The driver experiences a precise and relaxed steering feel, less steering movement is required, reducing the number of grip changes, especially in cornering or parking manoeuvres. The steering in the new Leon CUPRA works with a progressive ratio through variable toothing on the rack.
• Handling control
The ESP handling system has been further developed specifically for the CUPRA and enables a very sporty driving style with full retention of safety functionality. For extremely dynamic use, such as on a race track, it can also be deactivated in two stages.
• CUPRA Drive Profile
The CUPRA Drive Profile enables the characteristics of the new Leon CUPRA to be adapted across a very wide range to meet the individual preferences of the driver. Alongside the Comfort and Sport modes, the CUPRA mode was, of course, a focal point for the engineers in Martorell. Throttle response is particularly sensitive in this setting, while the DSG operates in its sportiest shifting mode, DCC dynamic chassis control, progressive steering and the front-axle differential lock also operate at their sportiest settings.
The Technologies and Assistance Systems
SEAT engineers have put together a portfolio of state-of-the-art technologies for the new Leon CUPRA. It includes the full-LED headlamps, as well as the multi-collision brake, which helps to avoid secondary collisions in the event of an accident. Also standard equipment is the SEAT Media System Plus infotainment system. Options include the safety assist system ACC with Front Assist and city emergency braking function, the tiredness recognition and lane assist system.
The full-LED lights in combination with LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights are standard equipment in the SEAT Leon CUPRA. Alongside their expressive design, LED headlamps have many further benefits – for instance, they illuminate the road with a colour temperature of 5.500 Kelvin. Because this is very similar to that of daylight, it puts very little strain on the eyes.
ACC and Front Assist
Playing a particularly important role among the driver assistance systems in the new SEAT Leon CUPRA is the adaptive cruise control (ACC). The radar-based system maintains the pre-set speed and pre-selected distance to the vehicle in front, accelerating and decelerating automatically in flowing traffic. Front Assist, including the city emergency braking function, can guard against the danger of collisions by using a radar sensor to monitor traffic in front of the vehicle.
The new SEAT Leon CUPRA comes to market with a state-of-the-art infotainment solution as standard. SEAT Easy connect operating system, enables control of all entertainment and communication functions, as well as a variety of vehicle functions, via a touch-sensitive screen in the cockpit. The optional Navy System has the same features as Media System Plus, while also incorporating the voice-controlled navigation system.
Highest levels of connectivity
Connectivity, being in constant touch with the digital world, is, for many people, a major part of a modern, urban lifestyle. The Leon CUPRA 290 offers the highest levels of connectivity. MirrorLink is the perfect technology for safely operating smartphones and many of their functions and apps via the infotainment system. It functions easily and smoothly with a growing number of MirrorLink-compatible Android smartphones.
New SEAT ConnectApp – speak, don’t type
The new SEAT Connect App makes perfect use of MirrorLink integration. The driver is always connected, yet retains full concentration on the road. Central functions include “Read to me” and “Voice Reply”. The text reading function converts incoming messages from the likes of e-mail, text messaging, Facebook or Twitter accounts into speech, reading them out loudly and clearly.
SEAT Full Link provides maximum connectivity
However, SEAT’s new world of connectivity applies to more than just users of MirrorLink-compatible smartphones. The SEAT Full Link connectivity solution also incorporates the functions of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay -in those countries where these technologies are available.
The Equipment – exclusive and individual
The Leon CUPRA also states its position as the top model in the SEAT range through the progressive steering, dynamic chassis control, front-axle differential lock, CUPRA Drive Profile and high-performance brake system with 19-inch wheels. The CUPRA 290 runs on 19-inch wheels and is recognisable by its black exterior mirror housings and red brake callipers with CUPRA lettering. Likewise standard are the full-LED headlamps and the LED rear lights. Rain sensor, light sensor and the automatically dimming rear-view mirror belong to the standard-fit comfort pack, while cruise control, Climatronic and high beam assistant are also fitted to the Leon CUPRA ex-works. The top sports seats in Alcantara, the CUPRA steering wheel and the Media System Plus with a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen are all among the standard interior features in addition to the extensive base equipment of the Leon FR.
The look of the Leon CUPRA can be further individualised with the options White Line, Black Line and Orange Line. The surrounds of the radiator grille and wing mirrors and parts of the two-tone aluminium wheels are painted in the respective colour – with the Orange Line standing for Cup Racer orange
.SEAT Leon CUPRA 290 – perfect in sport, comfort and style
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.