SEAT Ibiza Bocanegra

Flagship version of SEAT's Ibiza Cupra features blacked-out grille, but is it all mouth and no trousers?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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SEAT has always been renowned for its spicy hot hatches and the latest incarnation of the Ibiza hasn’t broken the trend. The Bocanegra is lively, great to drive and well built – but crucially, it won’t break the bank. Our only criticism is the firm ride – something that has become a trademark for fast SEATs. But with fuel and road tax costs only set to rise, performance cars like the Ibiza make more sense than ever – and they’re great fun, too.

It’s SEAT’s hottest Ibiza yet! The Spanish firm has pumped-up its stylish supermini with the addition of a lusty 178bhp 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged engine - and for this range-topping Bocanegra version there’s a host of unique styling cues, too. But how will it fare on UK roads?

Distinguished by its glossy black headlamp and grille surround (Bocanegra is Spanish for ‘black mouth’) the sizzling hatch certainly looks the part, with its jagged lines and cool, 17-inch anthracite alloy wheels.

Fire up the Volkswagen-sourced 1.4-litre TSI unit and you’re met with a brilliant sporty growl from the exhaust that intensifies as the revs rise. The seven speed DSG semi-automatic gearbox adds to the aural drama too, as it automatically blips the throttle when changing down, which makes for a smooth changes and a sudden woofle from the rear pipes.

The Ibiza is at its most comfortable when hammering through bends – there’s masses of grip and virtually no body roll thanks to the wide tyres, firm suspension and SEAT’s XDS system that mimics the action of a limited slip differential by braking the wheel with least grip. The steering is direct and precise, but not quite as communicative as French rivals like the RenaultSport Twingo.

Inside, there are numerous nods to the Bocanegra’s sporting potential, such as the bright red stitching on the seats and flat-bottomed steering wheel, carbon fibre detailing and a B. emblem embossed on the supportive seats.

The cabin is well built too, with quality soft-touch plastics and familiar, robust VW switchgear. It is a little dark though, and lacks the theatre of fellow sporting hatchbacks - rear leg and head room is tight as well, so back seat passengers might not welcome long journeys.

Look at the figures and the Ibiza Bocanegra has all the bases covered. It will scorch from 0-60mph in only 7.2 seconds but, during normal driving, comfortably average 44.8mpg and emits only 148g/km of CO2 – that’s one of the best blends of performance and low running costs on the market.
 

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