With rivals like the Mini Cooper S and the Skoda Fabia vRS to contend with, Seat had to facelift the Ibiza Cupra for 2013. The arrival of the new look Ford Fiesta ST, the Renaultsport Clio and Peugeot’s 208 GTI will crowd the market with capable rivals for Seat’s hot hatch, so the flagship Ibiza comes with chunkier bumpers, 17 inch alloy wheels and a trapezoid shaped exhaust pipe to distinguish it from the everyday Ibizas and the competition. It’s 15mm closer to the ground thanks to revised suspension which adds to its aggressive stance.
With 178 hp and 184 lbft of torque, there’s enough power from the 1.4 litre engine, that’s both supercharged and turbocharged, to worry the competition. It’s attached to a seven-speed DSG gearbox with paddle shifters, which help the Cupra click rapidly through the gears on its way from 0-62 mph in 6.9 seconds. It’s no slouch at the top end either, with a top speed of 142 mph.
Although that’s impressive, hot hatches live and die on how they handle rather than their top speed and unfortunately the Cupra is let down by extremely light steering that lacks the required feel, so you don’t get the responsiveness you need at turn-in. As a result, it would take a pretty brave driver to find the limits of the chassis.
The suspension settings are also a bit off, so the front feels compliant whilst the rear jitters around. The car’s easy to live with during most journeys and as long as it’s not pushed to the limit, it won’t bite back. But what’s the point in owning a hot hatch and dawdling around town?