The facelifted Seat Ibiza Cupra will be offered with a manual gearbox when it appears later this year - and it could ultimately form part of an extended performance line-up that includes hot diesel versions of key models.
The existing Ibiza Cupra mates a 178bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, controlled by steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. That set-up will continue to be offered on the facelifted model, but Seat sources have confirmed that the car will also be offered with a six-speed manual gearbox.
This will allow the Ibiza Cupra to take on the Ford Fiesta ST and Vauxhall Corsa VXR and will render the Renault Clio RS the only small hot hatchback to be restricted to an automatic transmission only.
Speaking at the Barcelona show, Seat chairman Jürgen Stackmann suggested that the Cupra brand is likely to expand through the firm’s larger models in the years ahead. He hinted that this could extend to diesel editions.
Seat is believed to be evaluating the 237bhp twin-turbo diesel engine found in the recently launched Volkswagen Passat as the basis of a Leon Cupra TDI.
“The idea of a high-performance diesel Cupra is not a bad one,” Stackmann said. “The question is how we get to that and still make it affordable, because getting to Cupra levels of power and performance with a diesel can be quite expensive. The decision has to be based on it being accessible in its range and strong in performance and value. If we get to that, then yes, we should talk about a Cupra diesel.”
Stackmann confirmed that a Cupra version of Seat’s forthcoming Qashqai rival - due to make its public debut at next spring’s Geneva motor show - is under consideration.“Cupra on an SUV is not impossible,” he said. “It’s much more logical to have FR, with its mix of performance and comfort, but there is a niche in Europe that is more than FR and we have to explore that. It’s not unthinkable. I can see it being probably more relevant than small high-performance cars in the future.”
Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below: