At its price, reader Brett Danney thinks his Spanish hot hatch is unbeatable. He shares his most exhilarating reasons with us.
There are very few clues on the outside about what lies within the Seat Ibiza Cupra.
Sharper eyed enthusiasts will spot (huge) four-pot red brake calipers on the front disks, a subtle tailgate-mounted wing, a distinctive two into one chromed tail pipe and a massive intercooler discreetly hidden behind the front grille.
Slip inside and have a seat on the red stitched black seats embroidered with the Cupra logo and you notice the grey leather gear shift, handbrake and steering wheel all finished in red stitching. A closer inspection reveals cruise control, a CD front loader and climate control.
The dashboard plastic is not of the highest standard, but does look modern and solid with all the controls easy to understand and operate. The black roof lining creates a purposeful mood in the cabin.
Under cover of Cupra
Turn the key and the four-cylinder 1.8-litre motor springs instantly to life. Engage the clutch, slip the super slick gearbox into first, release the clutch while flooring the accelerator, and all seems normal.
As the rev counter approaches 2 000 r/min you are reminded that something is about to happen by an ever increasing whine from the front end. Then the turbo kicks in and you are thrust back in your seat and the rev counter does an even faster climb towards the limiter, the traction control light flashing as the 17-inch Pirellis struggle to control the flow of power down the drive shafts.
At this point morbid curiosity as to what will happen next forces a quick gear change to second. Things seem to calm down momentarily, but before that even has a chance to cross your mind your back is once again pressed into the seat while the world outside rushes past faster and faster. This continues in every gear with seemingly no end.
GTI R origins
The 1800cc 20-valve force fed engine last did duty in Volkswagen's Golf 4 GTi R and pushes the Cupra to a 0-100km/h time of 7.2 seconds. It takes a lot of discipline to drive this car modestly, but you will be rewarded for doing so with fuel consumption figures of between 10 and 12 l/100 km around town. Sticking to the national limit on highways returns 8.9 l/100 km.
The entire package is very sporty. In the braking department, stepping on the middle pedal brings things to come to an end rather rapidly. The handling too is of a sporty nature. Just in case you do get it all wrong there is traction control, an electronic stability programme and ABS brakes to keep you on the road, failing which it is over to the four airbags.
The Seat Ibiza Cupra 1.8 Turbo is a very well rounded package. If you are into performance then there is nothing in its price range even worth considering. It is a focused machine that achieves its purpose. There can be no doubt to this vehicle's ability when pushed ? just ask any owner, we're all passionate about our cars!