Seat Ibiza Cupra tiptoes through snow

Our Arctic winter has led to many things being curtailed. Events have been cancelled. Buses, trains and even our own cards have stopped unexpectedly. In my case several times.

So it was with Seat Ibiza Cupra road test car. The roads were clear when I drove it home. Had I known it was only a one-day break between two periods of snow, I would have made sure I drove the car more that day. I suppose, in all, I got 12 miles of clear driving. Then I parked the car, totally unsuspecting the dump of snow that was to fall that night.

Seat Ibiza Cupra

The next morning there was simply no question. My own car being four-wheel-drive, not surprisingly I reached for its keys and for the next few days the Seat languished under a mountain of snow.

Then came a break in the weather at last. Unfortunately, however, there was still black ice and hard-packed snow everywhere. So, discretion being the better part of valour, these were no conditions to explore the Cupra’s performance and handling characteristics!

That said, it was proving impressive and quite sure-footed. It was quite willing to tip-toe along on the snowy country roads.

I headed home quite impressed with the Cupra, only for it to block its copybook by refusing to tackle the driveway up to the house. As a penalty, it spent a night out in the cold, shivering at the bottom of the hill! (In its defence, I should say it did better than the BMW 3 series that would not even move on the flat in the snow the previous winter.)

To me the Seat Ibiza Cupra flags up the success of the Volkswagen group. You don’t have to look far to spot that this car is put together using platforms, engines, gearboxes and the myriad of other bits from the groups corporate parts catalogue. But, just as the Skoda is still a Skoda, so Seat has managed to stamp its Latin image on the Ibiza.

The appeal is clearly to the young at heart. Particularly in this Cupra version there is a strong sporting influence. The cabin is predominantly black in the sports tradition. Although the plastics may not exude the same quality appeal as Volkswagen, the interior is both practical and attractive.

It took me a few minutes to find my driving position, adjusting the sport seats to the perfect position and then finding I had to raise the steering wheel just a tad, so that I could see the top of the instrument panel.

The sporting aspirations of the Seat Ibiza Cupra are underlined by the standard seven speed DSG gearbox. This has the usual floor selector and also steering wheel paddles. I’ve long been a fan of DSG gearboxes and their ability to shift gear in double quick time, usually with little fuss. This one proved good, although occasionally it was a little slow to pick up speed when moving gently away from standstill. But then, I guess that is what the paddles are for.

Seat Ibiza Cupra

You can choose standard mode or a sports setting, which sharpens up the responses and holds onto gears a little longer.

All in all, given the constraints of slippery roads, I was really quite impressed with the Seat Ibiza Cupra. Inevitably, the suspension is firm, as you would expect. The steering, however, is surprisingly light -- possibly a tad too light.

Power on the Seat Ibiza Cupra comes from a 180 PS 1.4-litre which sports both a turbocharger and a supercharger. As a result, it will accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds. Yet, as I found, economy is also good. I was returning figures on my trips well into the upper 30 mpg bracket (had the roads been clear, the temptation to use the performance would no doubt have increased the consumption!). Carbon dioxide emissions are 159 g/km.

The price for the Seat Ibiza Cupra is £16,545.
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