SEAT Ibiza SC Cupra review

30 Jul, 2013 9:45am Paul Bond

Hot hatch is revised to take on new rivals


On paper, the refreshed Cupra stacks up well against newer rivals, with good performance stats and impressive economy. But in reality, its undemanding dynamic set-up and DSG-only drivetrain rarely excite or engage like the best new hot hatches. It’s starting to feel its age inside, too, and can’t even undercut its far fresher and more capable rivals on price.

Since we last drove SEAT’s hottest facelifted Ibiza, three exciting new hot hatches have arrived. So how does the revised Cupra stack up against the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTi and Renaultsport Clio now that we’ve tried it on UK roads?

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The styling is potent enough to turn heads, but it’s a shame you can’t have the old Bocanegra model’s striking black face. Even so, the new LED tail-lights and central-exit exhausts still add sporty appeal. Our test car had optional AP Racing brakes (£1,000) that include smart red calipers. Their stopping power seriously impresses, but the normal brakes will be sufficient for most buyers.

Inside, the Ibiza feels a long way behind its rivals. The cheap-looking plastics and dated stereo are past their best, while the lack of kit like a USB port is annoying.

Still, the drivetrain is punchy, and the Cupra is easy to drive fast. In auto mode, the twin-clutch gearshifts are smooth, while changing gears with the steering wheel-mounted paddles adds to the fun factor. Its hard-edged growl under acceleration is appealing, too.

However, the ride and steering let the Cupra down. Low-speed bumps thud through the cabin, something you won’t find with the similarly priced Clio RS. Likewise, the steering is accurate but lifeless – robbing it of the sense of fun that makes the Fiesta ST so good to drive.

Disqus - noscript

Looks pretty boring to me , it just does not have any pizazz. The front is just ordinary, its interior is one big yawn . Oh dear both Skoda and Seat are getting too V .W and loosing their identities. By all accounts its not even that exciting to drive so think it,s a miss for Seat

I've sat in one of these and I was amazed at how (apart from the Cupra badges) the interior is exactly the same as my Ibiza FR, very disappointing. What this needs is a bit more that anything though is a manual gearbox option.

At least you can tell the Fabia vRS apart from lesser models, and it has decent build quality. This Ibiza is just overpriced and boring and looks just like the base model.

Seat needs to uplift Ibiza's interior to bring it in line with rivals. I test drove one with my partner the other day. It looks well on the outside but we were shocked at the poor quality and feel of the dash.
The model we tested was crammed full of gadgets but there were no buttons in sight. In case anybody wants to know they were all hidden on stalks behind the steering wheel. Penny saving or what?

Whilst I'm sure the Cupra isn't the definition of hot hatch greatness I think this is a tad harsh. You seem to have compared it against the best bits of all its rivals and funnily enough found it lacking. Bear in mind if you are happy with a dsg gearbox and can live with the compromises you can easily pick one up for £15000.

Key specs

  • Price : £18,765
  • Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
  • Power: 178bhp
  • Transmission: 7spd auto, fwd
  • 0-62/top spd: 6.9 secs/142mph
  • Economy/CO2: 47.9mpg/139g/km
  • Equipment: Sports exhaust, 18in alloys, xenons, multifunction wheel
  • On sale: Now