The Seat Ibiza Cupra Black is welcomed to our long-term fleet
It’s a hard time to be a hot hatch. The European market is now saturated with talented models and performance expectations are so high that when a front-driven hatchback laps the Nürburgring faster than a 10-year-old supercar, nobody bats an eyelid.
In fact, the pace has moved on so much in the past decade that models like this, the 2016 Seat Ibiza Cupra, are barely even considered hot at all and could quite easily fall into the ranks of a warm hatch with just a bit less horsepower.
Back in 2006, the Cupra’s 189bhp and 236lb ft would have placed it right at the sharp end of the hot hatch class, but now, with cars like its bigger sibling, the Leon Cupra, closing in on 300bhp, the Ibiza looks comparably lukewarm.
The market for these sub-200bhp hatchbacks is growing all the time, though, as demonstrated by the popularity of this car’s main rival, the Ford Fiesta ST.
With affordable running costs and insurance brackets that aren’t completely out of reach to younger drivers, the Ibiza Cupra and its similarly sized brethren certainly make for appealing first steps on the performance car ladder.
Priced from £18,100 (or £277 a month with a £277 deposit), the latest Ibiza Cupra is based on the fourth-generation model but ditches its turbocharged and supercharged 1.4-litre engine for a turbo 1.8.
The better-endowed 2016 model produces an extra 12bhp and a hefty 52lb ft more, yet also manages a claimed 45.6mpg and emits 145g/km of CO2.
Official performance figures show that the new car can accelerate from zero to 62mph in 6.7sec, three-tenths faster than the old one, and has a top speed is a claimed 146mph.
Given that the Cupra is no featherweight — it weighs 1260kg — these figures are mightily impressive and demonstrate the strength of the car’s new engine.
Our long-term test car is the higher specced Ibiza Cupra Black, which sells from £18,900 and is expected to be the best-seller in the UK.