8 months with a Renault Clio

Top Car's Wayne Batty says goodbye to his Renault Clio. It’s not a soppy farewell but the little 'automatique' did its maker proud.

Kia's trendy family pick

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post experiences the upcoming Cerato.

Seat Ibiza Cupra 1.8

2006-11-01 08:48

The Seat Ibiza Cupra offers 132kW of muscle

Wilmer Muller

The Seat Ibiza Cupra isn't the most modern looking car on the road but it does look the red-hot part. However, does it act like hot wheels?

What is it about

Hot hatches are becoming as common as minibus taxis in South Africa. They are jetting all over our roads and they are definitely not going unnoticed.

No matter which car showroom you walk into, the chances are good that you'll be able to order yourself a performance hatchback.

But since we are now spoiled for choice, it is difficult to spot a hot hatch that really stands out.

The Golf GTI might be the trendsetter in the hot hatch segment but it comes at a price. Then there are offerings such as the Focus ST and Astra OPC, but again pricing is on the wrong side of R200 000.

Well, so what is left if you can't fork out more than R200 000?

Hmmm,there is the Polo GTI and the Fiesta ST but then again their performance just doesn't quite have the edge.

But wait, how about the Seat Ibiza Cupra?

This Spaniard deserves to be noticed as this little hatch is all about fun. It is a real racer and just pure entertainment.

With the Ibiza you might notice an eerie resemblance to the old VW Polo Playa. That's because the Playa was based on the previous generation of Ibiza models with parts from the VW bin thrown in to ring styling changes. You get the picture?

However the latest Ibiza is a far cry from the Playa. It's unashamedly and overtly sporty in its looks and equipment. Fact of the matter is, it looks hot and it IS hot.

Modifications over the standard Ibiza include stiffer shock absorbers with softer coil springs, a wider front anti-roll bar and lower suspension, all contributing to better rigidity, stability and sportier handling. And, of course, lots more power - 132 kW of turbo-spinning, heart-stopping power, in fact. In a small body.

It is also well equipped with all the usual comfort and safety features.

Driving it

This is a hot hatch that will appeal to anyone who has even the vaguest element of sportiness in his or her soul. Although it lacks some finesse the Cupra reacts very well to driver input and it is blessed with a perky engine.

With the 132 kW 1.8-litre turbo-charged petrol engine from the previous generation Golf GTI the Ibiza Cupra is no slouch.

In fact, it takes the Ibiza Cupra just 7.3 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h, while in-gear acceleration from 60 to 120 km/h is 7.3 seconds in fourth, and top speed is 230 km/h.

The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, which is well-spaced, and you don't feel the need for a sixth gear.

The Cupra is indeed a true hot hatch - in fact it feels like an all out racer. It is quick and the car is all about performance, full stop.

Yes, this is a matter of "what you see, is what you get." Power is there when you need it and the acceleration is instantaneous

The overall ride is a bit harsh and it isn't the most refined in its class but it does cruise happily on the open road. Wherever you are heading you will be able to get there quickly, and in doing so you definitely WILL experience an adrenalin rush.


Okay, the Ibiza isn't the most modern looking car on the road and its age does show a bit - but it does look the red-hot part. From first glance there is no doubt that this car means serious business. The performance also doesn't disappoint and it is one of the zippiest cars you will find for under R200k.


On the inside you do realise the car's age. The interior fit and finish of the Cupra is a bit too plastic and the overall appearance is dull as it doesn't reflects the car's sporty exterior. The ride is coarse too.


The Ibiza Cupra is what a hot hatch should be - it is straight forward and fun. Yes, it might be a bit rough around the edges and some if its parts are from VW's yesteryear tool-bin, but this little hatch is spirited and pure enjoyment - and isn't that what counts with hot hatches?

The Ibiza has all the ingredients to establish itself as a firm favourite amongst hot hatch enthusiasts. Its turbo-charged engine, performance and sporty looks will ensure it stands out from the crowd.


Inside Wheels24

Take a virtual tour of the McLaren 570S in SA

Want to experience what it's like to be behind the wheel of a 419kW sports car? Take a virtual tour of the McLaren 570S in our interactive Snapchat video filmed in SA.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.