Seat’s Cupra line-up has earned many plaudits down the years, most particularly thanks to successive Leon Cupra models, which have been wonderful additions to the legion of hot hatchbacks on the market.
Quicker than many rivals, these smart Seats have proved themselves to be a very cost-effective proposition when compared with the likes of the Golf GTi, the Peugeot 308 GTi, and such like. Brutally quick and demon handlers, the Spanish company’s contenders have nevertheless flown under the radar in the popularity stakes.
If that has been the case with the Leon Cupra, then it is certainly even more so with the Ibiza Cupra, not too many of which you will see on our highways and byways.
That, I’m afraid to say, is a bit of a shame.
OK, so the last Ibiza Cupra was praised for its swiftness and handling prowess, but scolded for its inappropriate DSG auto gearbox and dull steering, but a new kid on this particular block has set out to correct those perceived flaws and raise the bar to new and unexplored heights.
The latest Ibiza Cupra does get slightly revised looks, with the adoption of aggressive LED front lights and a few other styling cues which underline its sharpened mechanical teeth.
But the majority of the improvements are hidden underneath.
Instead of the old 1.4 litre twin turbo petrol engine with the DSG ‘box, the car now has a 1.8 litre petrol engine with a single turbocharger and a six-speed manual gearbox. These changes alone have made this a beast of an entirely different colour.
It is one of the joys of this gig that, every now and then, something arrives on your driveway which you might not have been particularly gagging to drive, but once you do get your hands on it, giving it back becomes very difficult indeed. The new Ibiza Cupra is one such.
With a power output now upped to 192 bhp between 4,300 and 6,200 rpm and a massive 320 Nm of torque available between 1,450 and 4,200, this thing has a massive amount of get-up-and-go.
That is all very well in a small car, but so many of them down the years have been blighted by terminal understeer and wheelspin in practically every gear.
Not this one.
Top speed is 235 kph, and the 0-100 kph dash is achievable in just 6.7 seconds. The whole lot is held together by the XDS front differential lock which virtually eliminates understeer, no matter how hard you’re trying. Bigger front brake discs add to the new-found road-holding and stopping power.
Delivery of the power is pretty awesome I have to tell you and when you rev this thing to the red line as you move up through the gears you will be very pleasantly surprised by the speeds attained. The police mightn’t, but that’s another day’s work.
This Ibiza is not exactly understated in looks, but it is sober enough not to draw unwarranted attention to yourself. That will evaporate, however, once you start really exploring what this thing can deliver. The sheer pace and the largely immaculate handling make it a car in which it is hard not to rip things up a bit — every time you get into it.
There is very definitely an addictiveness about this car because once you sampled what’s on offer, you very definitely want another hit of it — and soon.
The interior decor is not quite up to VW levels, but it is not bad either and very well put together.
Spec levels are impressive too, what with climate control, infotainment system, cruise control, adaptive dampers and what not, all coming as standard for an asking price which is over three and a half grand cheaper than the recognised class leader in this segment, the Ford Fiesta ST.
Indeed mentioning the hot little Ford as being an exemplar of the genre, I’d have to say that, on price and performance, the Ibiza Cupra cannot be too far behind it. It has a very similar range of abilities (albeit without fully matching the Ford’s breadth of talent) and is considerably cheaper.
This is a cracking little car and one that should very much be on the radar for anyone who likes their motoring hot and just a little bit mad.
Sweet as a nut 1.8 turbo petrol.
The Overall Verdict:
Closer to the class leaders than ever before.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved