Seat is preparing to launch a 280bhp Leon Cupra R, revealed here in prototype form for the first time during testing. The hot new Cupra R is expected to make its world debut at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show.

The prototype of the new Seat, scooped by Autocar’s spy photographers, is based on the Leon FR recently revealed at the Paris motor show. A new front bumper with functioning air ducts, larger brakes, new 18-inch wheels and a lower ride height give away the mule’s identity as the Cupra R.

Power will come from a version of the Volkswagen Group’s ‘EA888’ 2.0-litre turbo engine, tuned to deliver about 280bhp, some 19bhp more than the current Cupra R. Torque is set to remain at 258lb ft, but its peak should arrive lower in the rev range.

The front wheels will be driven through a standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. All-wheel drive is being considered for some Leons, but not initially on the Cupra R.

With more power and less weight than before, thanks to its lighter platform, the Cupra R is set to have a 0-62mph time of less than 6.0sec and be reined in at 155mph.

Positioned beneath the Cupra R will be a Cupra, with 240bhp from the same engine.

In a bid to broaden the performance Leons’ appeal, Cupra and Cupra R models will be offered as three-door hatchbacks and estates. Standard versions of the three-door and estate will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March.

A high-riding, four-wheel-drive version of the Leon estate is also set to be launched in early 2014, Autocar can reveal. Body cladding will be offered on the tougher-looking new model, which is designed to bolster the Leon’s sales in northern Europe.

Thanks to: Autocar