Tuning the SEAT Leon Cupra - best performance mods.

"Thank you for reading my Leon Cupra tuning guide."

The Cupra refines the hot hatch for a new generation.

We take a peek at Leon Cupra tuning and outline the best modifications. SEAT Cupras are popular tuning projects and with carefully picked performance upgrades you can substantially increase your driving experience and enjoyment.

These were rated the best hot hatch in 2014, a stunning accolade backing up the Cupra as the performance choice of the Seat range.

We have seen some awesome Cupra tuning projects and there seems to be quite a loyal fan base of Cupra owners among our members. The key to Cupra tuning is getting the right mods you can waste loads of money if you do it wrong.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums


Many Cupra owners uprate the handling of their cars as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car. We suggest that you fit uprated suspension and lower the car by 30-35mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with sports suspension such as the Leon Cupra.

Our aim in Cupra engine tuning should be to increase peak power and Torque at the top end.

Following our guidance for modding your Cupra you will attain a practical sporty car that will potentially embarrass bigger cars.

Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine. Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.

Engine tuning mods.

These are the mods that are usually performed by our members, decide how far you wish to go in your tuning project before you start.

Getting the right mods for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 competition upgrades just don't work well on the road making the car difficult to drive.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include:
    Sports exhaust,Alloy wheels,Panel air filter,Remap,Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm),Lighter flywheel.

    Typical stage 2 mods often include:
    Ported and polished head,Fast road cam,Power clutch,Fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,.

    Typical stage 3 mods often include:
    Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves),Engine balancing,Sports gearbox,Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger),Competition cam.

    Peak power is nice in motorsport but for a daily driven car you need a wide power band and perhaps extending the rev range.

    In this article we shall give a little insight into the world to the best performance parts for your car, but we'd encourage you to spend some time on the site looking into the details of each type of performance mod.

    A fast road camshaft usually works out as one of the best NASP power modifications you can do mechanically to your engine.

    The intake and exhaust flow play a large part in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car hard to drive in traffic.

    You'd need to follow a cam upgrade with other mods and finish with a reflashed ECU for the best performance gains.

    When pushing up the power you will need to pay attention to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel.

    If you find you have flat spots and surges after your mods you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well.

    Uprating the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel. Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned Cupras uprated injectors.

    Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

    Breathing mods are usually next up. Air induction kits are only beneficial to increase power if your cars air intake is restricted!

    Adding an induction kit to most standard engines will see NO POWER GAIN AT ALL.

    If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

    Induction kits can work well on turbo engines and larger engines (if supplied with a suitable cold air feed or air box), generally though we'd just recommend for Cupra engines you should go with a performance panel air filter preferably made from cotton.

    Removing the precat will allow the turbo to spool up better on the 2.0 TFSi engines minimizing lag.

    Do not go with the biggest exhaust you can buy this will slow up the exhaust flow rate - the best for power gains are usually between 2 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size that matters.

    Head work including a gas flow (ported and polished) and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. When you heavily modify your Cupra you will see that the standard clutch starts to slip so get an uprated clutch. NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications.

    With turbocharged engines this is another story. A remapped turbo will give phenomenal power gains and fully release the potential power of the engine.

    Adding forced induction will see significant power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. Turbos are usually harder to add than a supercharger. Superchargers, however will give a boost which is correlating to engine speed so is simpler. Adding forced induction will usually require a lower compression ratio or water injection.

    Handling/Suspension upgrades

    Handling modifications are the thing most do first for the Leon Cupra.

    Setting a bit of negative camber on the fronts and a degree or two of toe in to improve stability or toe out for better cornering, will often enhance your Leon Cupra in handling and cornering.

    We suggest that you fit motorsport suspension and lower the car by 30mm - 40 mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with motorsport suspension.

    Coilover suspension with adjustable tops are pretty good on the Leon Cupra, enabling you to tweak the setup to suit your driving style.

    Alloy wheel upgrades.

    Alloy wheels will help the brakes cool down and are generally lighter than steel ones. It is worth noting that although they can look cool on the Cupra large alloys will actually decrease your performance.

    The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this to the change in your effective final drive ratio. With this in mind we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 17 inches or at the very most 18 inches, although we know some of our members have with bigger wheels with no major problems.

    If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our car forums where you can discuss Cupra options in more detail with our Cupra owners.

    It would also be worth reading our unbiased SEAT tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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