Login | Register
SearchMy Stuff
My ProfileMy PreferencesMy Mates RSS Feed
Tuesday 28th July 2009

Driven: SEAT Ibiza Cupra 1.4 TSI 180

SEAT's 'emo-thhhh-ional' riposte to the Clio 200 Cup


This could be fun. It’s the latest I-beefa with 180hp, a seven-speed double-clutch automated gearbox, a sporty three-door body and (we’re promised) a dash of that special ‘emo-thhhh-ion’ stuff that SEAT distils from the Spanish sunshine and splashes generously over its hot hatch line-up. Hola!


Those SEAT marketing campaigns have obviously made a mark on me, because as the wheels of our Easy Jet touch down on Spanish soil for the new Ibiza Cupra 1.4 TSI 180 international launch  I confess to feeling just a little emo-thhh-ional myself at the prospect of driving the latest version of this popular hot hatch. Or perhaps it is the memory of driving Renault’s joyfully-unfettered Clio 200 Cup a couple of months back that is getting the juices flowing, and the hope that this would-be rival will be just as stimulating.

The £15,995 Cupra makes its 180bhp from a unique-to-SEAT version of the VW Group’s 170bhp 1.4 litre four, featuring twin-charging and direct injection. SEAT engineers have raised the output by tweaking the ECU, so maximum power is now available at 6200rpm instead of 6000rpm, and turbo pressure boosted from 2,000 to 2,150mb.

Maximum torque is delivered from 2500 to 4000rpm, and at a quoted 184lb ft the torque figure is the maximum the seven-speed version of VW Group’s DSG transmission is engineered to handle – so little scope for flash remaps here!


Approaching the ranks of test cars lined-up at the airport car park under the baking sunshine, things are looking promising. To my eyes the latest Ibiza Cupra is a sporty little number, with swoopy swage lines slashing across the bonnet and doors, a rakish coupe-like profile and suitably aggressive-looking air-ducts in its lower front and rear appendages. (We met the chap responsible at the bar later - Christopher Axe, head of SEAT design, who it turns out is also a PH Shed Of The Week enthusiast, and a self-confessed PH classifieds addict. Top bloke!)

Inside the cabin, the little Ibiza plays its part well, too. There’s a sporty-looking instrument pack comprising large rev-counter and speedo in a neat cowling ahead of the driver, large circular air vents, and a grippy flat-bottomed steering wheel that sits really well in your hands. The chairs are comfortable too, with sufficient adjustment to make sure anyone can get their toes on the aluminium pedals and their hand on the leather-clad control stick for the unique-in-class DSG gearbox.


So far so good then, and it’s all going to sound pretty exciting down at the Dog & Duck. I mean to say, who else are you going to know with a hot 180bhp supermini that boasts an automated double-clutch seven-speed gearbox, with a pair of race car-style paddle-shifters on the wheel? Exactly, you ain’t!

Talk is cheap though, and to earn its spurs this new Cupra is going to have to work those Spanish horses hard. A flick through the press info reveals a kerb weight of 1172kgs, which is usefully lower than the Clio 200 Cup’s 1200kgs (in spite of the extra weight of the DSG box), but there’s that 20bhp power deficit to factor into the equation. Renault quotes a torque figure of around 160lb ft for its simpler 1998cc N/A four cylinder, which is in turn significantly down on the SEAT’s 184lb ft. Swings and roundabouts, I guess, a point proven by the near identical claimed acceleration times, although the Clio does just nudge ahead of the SEAT on the 0-62mph sprint with a 6.9sec time playing 7.2secs. Both are said to reach 140mph, which isn’t too shabby either.


Out on the road, the SEAT feels swift, composed, and comfortable. It rides smoothly around town and at speed, body-roll is decently controlled and there’s plenty of grip at the front end, even under power. The suspension has been upgraded over the Ibiza Sport with 15 percent stiffer coils, stiffer shocks and a 10mm lower ride height, but arguably more significant is the adoption of the latest XDS system that uses ESP sensors and the vehicle brakes to mimic the operation of an LSD – reducing wheel slip on the inside front wheel when cornering fast, and delaying the onset of understeer. The steering is OK too, a little meatier than the Renault’s, if a little less direct, and the brakes can’t really be faulted with beefy 15ins discs providing the stopping power.

All good then? Well no, not really.

Try as I might I just couldn’t get to like this latest Cupra - and the sole significant fly in the ointment is that daft DSG gearbox.


It changes gear inside 500milliseconds, apparently, or as few as 8ms when you’re swapping to an automatically ‘pre-selected’ cog, and in auto mode while cruising the horrid thing shifts as smoothly and as pleasantly as anyone might wish. It also helps improve economy and emissions.

But this is a hot hatch. You’re supposed to enjoy driving it by the scruff of its neck, wringing the performance out of it, thrashing it - and lunging for the next snatched gear-shift at the best speed a mere human can manage is surely more than half the fun.

The DSG-equipped Cupra removes that pleasure at a stroke. When you want to wring some performance out of the beast in S mode, it kicks down aggressively and delivers its acceleration in a manner totally devoid of any satisfaction for the driver. Instead, the Cupra sounds and feels like a CVT-equipped car, all noise and no action – which is ironic as the figures prove. The performance is in there, but it’s delivered so seamlessly you don’t actually notice and if that sounds contradictory, you’re probably right from an engineering perspective.

But hot hatches shouldn’t be about engineering solutions to economy, CO emissions or taxation regimes, they should be engineered to deliver driver engagement or – dare I say – emotion. This one doesn’t quite seem to work on those terms, but drop an old-fashioned gearbox in it and it might.





 

Chris-R
2 3
Reply to Topic
Author Discussion

russellwatson17

Original Poster:

278 posts

72 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
The interior looks a bit dated

HellDiver

5,708 posts

66 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
Nice to see the new Ibiza finally get a decent engine.

MrTappets

802 posts

75 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
I really can't see anything i like about it. That styling will probably look horribly dated in a few years and the interior already does. Gearbox is a bit pretentious too, who needs seven speeds in a hot hatch? Six was perfect.

Daz4m

2,451 posts

79 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
I always liked the Ibiza Cupra but this one looks a bit ugly.

lionrampant

577 posts

74 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
Am I the only one that sees echoes of the Kia Pro_ceed? I'm not saying the Ibiza is an ugly car by any means, but I just keep thinking "hang on I've seen that before..." when I catch it from the right angle.
Advertisement

EDLT

14,710 posts

90 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
I don't understand whats wrong with the gearbox, is it just another luddite moaning about it not being a manual?

collateral

7,238 posts

102 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
I've been saying this about DSG ever since I had the displeasure of driving a mk5 GT with it. Completely disengages you from driving, no matter how quickly it can change cogs

JumpinJack

377 posts

62 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
Hmm... I think this car would have done well if released the same time as the Astra VXR. I agree with above that its all a little dated.

barky

480 posts

95 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
I used to in the 'I hate automatics' camp - but after having had one the last few years I find it just as good as a manual, took a little time to get used to - about half an hour! - I do still miss the ol' manual gti though & the way things are going dsg/automated manual seems to be becoming the default choice, suspect it'll not be long till manuals are an extra cost option.
Anyhooz ---- this new ibiza in FR & cupra guise looks like a good un & yes, the paddle shifters would be far more fun than auto mode

Belfast Boy

855 posts

66 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
suits yellow like the wedge of cheese it is!

kambites

39,995 posts

105 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
EDLT said:
I don't understand whats wrong with the gearbox, is it just another luddite moaning about it not being a manual?
I don't think so. All the reviews I've read of this car say that the gearbox spoils it and some of them were written by people who are generally fans of the DSG.

Hoolied

384 posts

74 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all


That is simply an awful interior - the steering wheel is horrid, and WTF is going on with the seat pattern, looks shocking.

Also the exterior design is devoid of any long-lasting appeal, it looks malformed - those stupid lines down the side make the bloody thing appear to be on stilts. These will date incredibly quickly.

pumpkin

155 posts

125 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
Ghost Busters will be glad it has an ESP sensor.

dying2live06

4 posts

87 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
i like it. i havnt drivin any new dsg gearboxes. Drove some mercs a couple of years ago. You had to press the paddles before your wanted to change. i personaly cant get on with them. i get lazy. without a clutch pedal. my Question is what do these new ABS type Diff's do for brake wear when hooning ??

Mr.Jimbo

1,495 posts

67 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
I like it, cause in my opinion the standard one looks like a really ugly pet. it's cute in a way, but you wouldn't want to be seen with one.

That engine must be nice too, mum has the 140 in the Golf GT Sport, and thats no slouch! 40PS & a bit more torque and much less weight = bingo bango lick

carl_w

4,759 posts

142 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
Turbo pressure of over 2 bar, i.e. >30 psi? Seems like a lot for a petrol engine.

adycav

7,615 posts

101 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
I'm surprised that it only has 180ps, since the last shape Ibiza Cupra had that too.

In fact that wasn't a bad little car, it was a bit rough and ready and it wasn't as accomplished as the contemporary Clio competition, but that was part of its appeal.

DirtyHarry88

930 posts

72 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
The new Ibizas are good looking cars.

Motorrad

5,055 posts

71 months

[news] 
Tuesday 28th July 2009 quote quote all
Having owned a DSG MK5 GTi I agree with the article. DSG removes a large part of the satisfaction from the driving experience. A big flaw in a supposed hot hatch.


rsstman

1,918 posts

71 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th July 2009 quote quote all
DirtyHarry88 said:
The new Ibizas are good looking cars.
i will take that as sarcasm, they really are very ugly things.
2 3
Reply to Topic