This took the performance potential of the little hatch and made it real, with the styling and go to match. When we drove it back in sunny July we were impressed by its nimble handling and sprightly performance and we knew that if the Cupra was even better we were in for a treat.
And we haven’t been disappointed. The Cupra – diesel and petrol – takes the FR formula and cranks it up a notch or two.
The styling is even better, with larger 17inch alloys, bigger air intakes and, of course, the Cupra badging.
One of the minor criticisms is that the interior is a little sparse, and in its attempt to make it ‘sporty’, with some splashes of red, Seat seems only to have managed to make it feel a little cheaper. Power for the diesel version comes from the Volkswagen 1.9TDi unit – the car will compete against Polo GT – which has driven everything from Fabias to Sharans.
For the Cupra it has been tuned to deliver just under 160bhp but what is most impressive is the 243lb-ft of torque. While it may not be as quick to 60mph as the 1.8-litre 180bhp petrol version, it’s the in gear performance which really impresses, making overtaking a breeze.
However, all that torque can be difficult to translate through the wheels, especially when driving in the wet. The low profile tyres struggle to stick to the road, twitching if too much throttle is applied.
But the Cupra does handle well, and provided drivers are aware of the torque understeer, it offers them great fun touring (dry) country lanes.
Strengths: Very quick, great handling and superb economy
Weakness: Maybe too much torque at times
Opportunity: Benchmark for hot hatch diesels
Threat: Quite pricey
The USP: Performance without the thirst
Engines: 1.9-litre TDi 158bhp, 243lb-ft torque
Transmission: 6spd manual, fwd
Performance: 0-62mph 7.6sec; top speed 137mph
Efficiency: 52.3mpg combined, 146g/km CO2
CAP RV (3yr/30k): £6,300 (41%)
Rivals:Skoda Fabia vRS, VW Polo GT TDI