Seat Ibiza Cupra Beckermet
Seat Ibiza Cupra
It's the Spanish flier that’s as hot as the island it’s named after! Meet the SEAT Ibiza Cupra – a high-performance version of the firm’s popular hatchback.
On sale now, it’s gunning for rivals such as the Renaultsport Clio 200 and Vauxhall Corsa VXR by packing an amazing amount of technology into a small, affordable package.
Not only does the Cupra get the VW Group’s 178bhp 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine, it also boasts a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox and electronic XDS limited-slip differential.
As a result, it’s hard to believe SEAT has kept the price down to only £15,995 – that’s £755 cheaper than the Clio and £1,200 less than the Corsa.
The firm hasn’t cut corners when it comes to its visual desirability, either. The Cupra looks the part, thanks to a racy bodykit, 17-inch alloys and a centrally mounted exhaust.
Factor in an eye-catching range of colours – such as our Lumina Orange car – sports seats, plus steering wheel-mounted paddles for the DSG transmission, and it ticks all the hot hatch boxes.
Should you wish to stand out even more, you can pay an extra £700 for the Bocanegra version – it’s mechanically the same, but gets a black plastic front end and extra detailing.
So, does the driving experience match the promise of the technology and looks? Not quite – although this has nothing to do with the engine.
The super-turbo unit is excellent, delivering plenty of torque at low revs and strong punch at high revs.
It sounds great, too, with the faintest supercharger whine lower in the range, and some welcome turbo rush at high engine speeds. Performance is also strong – 0-62mph takes 7.2 seconds.
The DSG transmission is smooth, providing seamless gearchanges on the upshift and blipping the throttle on the downshift. However, its habit of kicking down when the throttle is pushed to the floor is annoying.
Around corners, the Cupra displays good body control and decent grip, if not much excitement. The stability control systems cut the power severely if you accelerate hard in tight turns. Turn the ESP off and the XDS system, which uses the anti-lock brakes to mimic a mechanical differential, just feels a bit artificial.
The steering is quite meaty and turn-in to corners is sharp. There’s not much feedback, though, and while the Cupra will tighten its line if you lift off mid-bend, the tail doesn’t step out as it does in the Clio.
Refinement is better than in the noisy Renault, and the ride is quite comfortable. Couple that to a safe and capable chassis, and you have a fast car that’s easy to live with. And one with plenty of showroom appeal, too. But ultimately, the Cupra lacks sparkle – and that makes it a good hot hatch, rather than a great one.
Rival: Renaultsport Clio 200
With an engaging chassis, high-revving engine and muscular looks, the hot Clio certainly gets pulses racing. Only poor motorway refinement and a punishing ride count against it.
Author: Sam Hardy