The latest Seat Leon, introduced at the 2012 Paris motor show, has always been a handsome-looking car and now it’s a quick one too – very quick in fact thanks to two high-performance versions of the VW Group 2.0 TSI turbo petrol EA888 engine.

The Leon Cupra is powered by a 261bhp variant of the new engine, accelerates from 0 to 62mph in 5.9 seconds and achieves up to 44.1 mpg and 149 g/km of CO2 emissions, while the Cupra 280 drops another 0.1 seconds off that sprint time to 5.8 seconds (or 5.7 seconds with the optional DSG transmission) thanks to its 276bhp engine with no impact on fuel efficiency (DSG models achieve 42.2 mpg and 155 g/km).

Both Cupra models are available in 5-door hatchback and 3-door SC formats, with prices ranging from £25,690 up to £28,525 for the Leon Cupra 280 DSG.

Seat-Leon-Cupra-2014_G7Consider this an expertly tuned ‘sound chamber’ – when the DSG system operates in its most sporty mode the sound actuator accentuates the full tone of the turbocharged engine.

To put those numbers in context, the 217bhp Volkswagen Golf GTI costs from £26,125 while the 296bhp Golf R is priced fron £29,900 (or £31,970 when fitted with DSG). The Golf R is heavier, more thirsty (by 1.3mpg) and accelerates 0.8 seconds quicker thanks to its standard 4MOTION four-wheel drive system.

The Leon Cupra counters with a dynamic new chassis featuring a mechanical front axle differential lock, progressive steering and DCC dynamic chassis control – which alters the suspension between sport or more comfort-oriented settings. The Cupra also features two-stage deactivation of the electronic stability control (ESC) including the ability to turn the system off completely.

Both versions deliver 350 Nm of torque spread between 1,750 rpm and 5,300 rpm, which you might not realise is the same as the standard 2.0-litre TSFi engine fitted in Audi’s TT.

Like the TT, both Cupra engines use Audi’s patented ‘valve lift system’ which regulates the opening of the adjustable camshafts on the exhaust side of the engine. They also feature a dual-injection system which combines direct injection with manifold injection under partial load. As with all EA888 engines, the exhaust manifold is integrated into the cylinder head and is part of the intelligent thermal management system which reduces emissions and improves fuel performance.

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  • Seat-Leon-Cupra-2014_G1

The Cupra 280 is visually differentiated by its unique 19-inch wheels with a titanium paint finish, plus the Aerodynamic Pack, which comprises a spoiler on the rear roof edge, Cupra lettering on the brake callipers and black exterior mirror housings. Cockpit trim elements are a deep glossy black.

Building upon the Leon’s new lightweight design, the latest Cupra weighs 55 kg less than its predecessor making it considerably faster around a track while using less fuel, which sounds like a win-win for Seat fans.

Order books are now open with first deliveries scheduled for early March 2014.