In our road test of a basic Ibiza we felt the Seat outdrove and outhandled the equivalent Clio and Corsa models. So it’s fair to expect great things from the Cupra, the most sporting model in the range, but does it deliver?
Disappointingly for a company that claims its products are defined by their dynamism, the Seat is less competitive in this performance sector.
The Cupra’s chassis and engine combination work well enough. It responds quickly and has ample grip for both road and track driving. But the experience is let down by inconsistent steering weight from the electrically assisted power steering, which reduces the resistance too much at slow speeds, resulting in a lack of feel and precision. This improves at higher speeds as the specially adapted servo weights up the steering, but there is never a real sense of connection.
The XDS diff is a worthwhile addition, though, virtually eliminating torque steer at anything other than full load in first or second gear, and even then it is a minor interference. XDS also gives the Ibiza excellent traction out of corners. Get on the throttle too early and the front axle will gradually lose traction, but it is easily brought back into line by easing off the throttle.
The Cupra’s handling may not be all that inspiring, but it has a supple ride which betters that of most of its rivals. The well controlled suspension can be caught out on sharp intrusions, but generally it absorbs the worst breaks and undulations with little more than a muffled thump in the cabin.
Body roll is well contained, too. The nose may dive under heavy braking, but no more so than any of its rivals, and cornering is flat in all but the most severe direction changes.