The SEAT Ibiza Cupra is back with a new engine and more power, but with the same budget-friendly pricing that makes this car super appealing. The list price is just €22,625, significantly less than rivals such as the Ford Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTi and Opel Corsa OPC.
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But the SEAT Ibiza Cupra is a bona fide hot hatch – just look at the performance figures. A new 1.8-litre TSI turbocharged petrol engine replaces the old twin charged 1.4-litre petrol and power has been upped from 180 to 192hp. Torque is up from 250 to 320Nm. The Ibiza Cupra will hit 100kmh from a standstill in 6.7 seconds and go on to a top speed of 235 km/h.
It feels every bit as fast as that on the road and like a good old-fashioned hot hatch, the Ibiza Cupra is deliciously light, agile and uncomplicated. The steering is sharp and precise, and an XDS electronic differential lock reduces understeer as you turn in for the corner at speed. A prod of that accelerator pedal and you’ve got a lovely linear boost of power to exit those corners quickly. SEAT has dropped the automatic gearbox in favour of a new 6-speed manual gearbox and that makes the new Ibiza Cupra even more involving and exciting to drive.
You can toggle between Sport and Normal modes to adjust the ride and handling characteristics. In Normal mode, the ride is still on the firmer side of the spectrum, but it’s still comfortable enough for it to be an easy car to live with on a daily basis. Predictably Sport mode firms things up a bit more so the body feels a bit stiffer through bends, the throttle feels a bit more sensitive and it also makes the exhaust a bit nosier (in a good way!).
The economy is not bad either. The Ibiza Cupra will return up to 46mpg, which is similar to the claimed economy figures from rivals. However, emissions of 145g CO2 put the Ibiza in tax band C so motor tax will be €390 per year.
The interior and exterior styling has been smartened up in line with the rest of the recently facelifted Ibiza range but the Cupra gets a few extras – 17” 5 spoke alloy wheels, red brake callipers, centrally mounted twin exhaust pipes, spoiler, Cupra badges and new bumpers and grille.
The cabin is really the only place that reflects the Cupra’s budget price – it’s not quite as plush or daring when compared to more expensive rivals. Quality has been improved but it’s only differentiated from lesser Ibizas with a few Cupra badges. Still it’s a small gripe and this car is on its game where it matters. As a top of the range Ibiza, the Cupra has a good list of standard equipment including cruise control, climate control, sports seats, aluminium pedals, Cupra leather steering wheel and gearstick, trip computer, touchscreen infotainment, Bluetooth, and electric windows and mirrors.
Like rivals, the Ibiza Cupra is sold as three door only. Interior space is good up front but a bit more snug in the back. The boot is a good size at 292 litres, and that’s the same capacity as the standard five door Ibiza.
The SEAT Ibiza Cupra is so tempting because it offers hot hatch performance figures at such a great price. If you’re a power hungry petrolhead on a budget or just a small car buyer willing to stretch for something a bit more fun and exciting, the SEAT Ibiza Cupra is excellent value considering the power and poise that this car has.
Model tested: SEAT Ibiza Cupra
Engine: 1.8-litre, four cylinder turbo petrol
0-100km/h: 6.7 seconds
Economy: 46mpg (6.2l/100km)
CO2 emissions: 145g/km
Tax band: C (€390 per year)