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SEAT Ibiza SC Cupra review

Hot hatch is revised to take on new rivals

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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.

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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.

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