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SEAT Ibiza SC Bocanegra 1.4 TSI

Click to view picture gallery“First UK drive of the new SEAT
  Ibiza Cupra Bocanegra — and with
  a supercharged and turbocharged
  powerplant under the bonnet, it’s
  a real Spanish cracker!

THE NEW IBIZA uses the Volkswagen group's latest platform and offers the latest in engine and powertrain technologies, so with prices starting from 9,135 they are considerably cheaper than their similar VW counterparts. No longer can we complain that the Ibiza, although smart, is let down by a harsh ride and noisy and under-performing engines.

The new Ibiza range includes sporty FR, Cupra and Cupra Bocanegra versions notable, first and foremost, for SEAT's use of VW's brilliant supercharged and turbocharged 1.4-litre TSI engine.

This powerplant is also paired with VW's seven-speed DSG automated gearbox and XDS electronic differential lock — an engine/transmission combination that's only available for Ibiza SC three-door models.

The FR uses a 148bhp version of the 1.4 TSI, whilst the Cupra and Cupra Bocanegra run a stunning 178bhp state of tune.

Visual differences between the Cupra and Cupra Bocanegra — Bocanegra, incidentally, means 'black-face' in Spanish — are the front-end styling, dark tinted alloy wheels, black lettering on the boot lid badging and a few interior enhancements. The 16,695 Bocanegra is 700 more expensive than the 'standard' Cupra.

This special version came about because of public demand — SEAT first used the Bocanegra name 34 years ago but after they showed a SportsCoupe Bocanegra concept at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show demand was such that it is now available, although only in relatively small — and undisclosed — numbers.

Believe me, the 'black-faced' Ibiza really did attract some attention from fellow road users and pedestrians during my very brief test drive last week. Any owner will be noticed; even if you are not seen you will be heard because the exhaust note of the turboed and supercharged 1.4-litre petrol engine at full bore is fantastic.

I'm too old to be a boy (or girl!) racer but even for me the Ibiza Cupra Bocanegra is a car I would be happy to own. The response of the twin-charged engine is stunning; and the power delivery between the supercharged and turbocharged modes is seamless. Zero to 62mph takes 7.2 seconds but it feels far faster and the top speed for road use is an irrelevant 140mph. But because it delivers 185lb ft of torque from 2,000rpm, it is just as happy — and responsive — at dawdling in-traffic speeds. Fuel economy is officially 44.1mpg although my short test returned less than half that figure!

The seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automated gearbox with the electronic XDS differential works well but some owners, particularly track day fans, would, I'm sure, rather have a close ratio manual 'box. That said, the sequential shift gearlever (or paddle shift options) definitely get you in the mood for fun. Alternatively, just leave it in full auto mode for the crawl to and from work.

The ESP electronic stability and traction control light came on very easily on wet roads during my test drive and would be intrusive for some experienced drivers who might like to savour the extreme parameters of this excellent model's performance.

The new SEAT suspension requirements for improved comfort — but with the same sharp handling characteristics we know from the past — work very well indeed. Yes, the ride is on the firm side but the car is comfortable, and the sports seats supportive.

A little gem is now to be found in the all-new SEAT range. Reasons to buy one: the engine (International Engine of the Year); the looks; the price; the fun. Against? Not enough supply to meet demand, I suspect. — David Miles

SEAT Ibiza SC Bocanegra 1.4 TSI
| 16,695
Maximum speed: 140mph | 0-62mph: 7.2 seconds | Overall MPG: 44.1mpg
Power: 178bhp | Torque: 184lb ft | CO2 148g/km | Insurance group 14