2009 Seat Ibiza FR and Cupra Leon - Click either image above for a hi-res gallery
Variety, so they say, is the spice of life. So while American fans of Volkswagen's hot hatches have nothing to complain about, none could be blamed for pining for the alternative options that the German auto group offers overseas. The company's Spanish subsidiary Seat doesn't sell stateside altogether, which is a bit of a shame, because Seats offer compelling packages with a bit more flavor than their VW counterparts, often with more power and at a lower cost, too. (Think Pontiac vs. Chevrolet with a bit more Mediterranean flavor and you're halfway there.) Case in point the revised Leon Cupra and new Ibiza FR which the company will be unveiling next month at its home-market Barcelona Motor Show (which, incidentally, was evidently not canceled
Although the Leon Cupra is ostensibly the same model as the one it replaces, Seat has added a few extra touches. Fortunately, the engines – 2.0-liter turbo fours in either 208 horsepower TSI trim (VeeDub-speak for gasoline turbo) or 168 hp TDI (turbo diesel) guise – carry over, but both are now mated to Seat's new XDS electronic differential, and complimented by a series of adjustments to the exterior and interior styling. Outside, the front fascia is more aggressive, the rear bumper gets a faux-diffuser black insert, the side mirror housings are blacked out and the ride height has been dropped slightly. Inside everything's all black and brushed aluminum. We had a chance to drive the Leon Cupra
last year and found it to be a slick ride, if suffering slightly from torque steer that the e-diff should help clear up.
Joining the revised Leon Cupra is the FR version of its little brother, the Ibiza. Slotting in below the new top-of-the-line Ibiza Cupra, the FR offers a compelling package with the VW Group's new 1.4-liter twincharger, packing both supercharger and turbocharger to deliver 148 hp, mated to a standard-equipment seven-speed DSG with paddle shifters. A host of electronic aids keeps everything in check, while the FR (Seat's second-tier sport trim) benefits from a variety of sporty touches which you can read about more in the press release after the jump.
SEAT RELEASES FIRST DETAILS OF NEW LEON CUPRA AND IBIZA FR
SEAT is releasing first details of the forthcoming new Leon Cupra and Ibiza FR, two hot hatches that further strengthen the 'sporty' gene which lies at the very core of the dynamic Spanish brand.
Both cars are set to make their world debuts at the Barcelona Motor Show (9 to 17 May), with UK sales commencing around July for the Leon Cupra and September for the Ibiza FR. Prices will be announced closer to their respective on-sale dates.
Cupra is the hottest badge in the SEAT hierarchy and therefore the 240 PS TSI Leon version will, as before, sit above the Leon FR models that have already been unveiled (which have a choice of 2.0 TDI CR 170 PS or 2.0 TSI 211 PS engines). Meanwhile, the Ibiza Cupra, which has already been previewed at the Paris Motor Show last year, will now be joined by this barely less swift FR TSI version.
New Leon Cupra – an even more appealing flagship
With the arrival of the 2009 version of the Leon, SEAT's flagship now features even more dramatic looks thanks to several new design elements introduced both inside and out. Its eye-catching appearance makes it the perfect road-going reflection of the Leon that is making phenomenal strides in the WTCC World Touring Car Championship.
The most obvious enhancement is to the 'face', featuring bold vents beneath the honeycomb central grille, while the new bumper houses two further black highlights, one at each side, with the word 'CUPRA' immediately visible on the left.
At the back the drama continues, with prominent black moulding at the bumper's base, a polished steel oval tailpipe and the characteristic model name emblazoned across the centre of the hatch.
A side look at the new Cupra reveals lower ground clearance compared with other Leon versions, making the car look and indeed feel more like a track car. Spectacular 18-inch alloy wheels and gloss black door mirror housings are also distinctive traits of this range-topping SEAT.
All interior elements are clad in black, reflecting customer tastes in the high-end hot hatch market. In addition, a leather-covered steering wheel with aluminium colour inserts and the 'CUPRA' logo at its flattened base is complemented by a matching gearknob. Adding further sportiness are aluminium pedals.
Special mention goes to the Leon Cupra's seats, with their authentic racing-bucket styling, featuring integrated headrests and the 'CUPRA' logo proudly stitched into the backrests. These seats offer tremendous side support when dealing with high-speed corners, as well as more driving comfort. Attractive new black leather upholstery with white cross-stitching is now available as an option.
As with the previous version, the new Leon Cupra is equipped with a powerful 240 PS 2.0-litre TSI engine, providing emphatically strong performance along with impressive fuel economy figures. Top speed is 153 mph and the benchmark 0 to 62 mph sprint takes only 6.4 seconds, yet average combined fuel consumption is 34 mpg.
The new Leon Cupra features standard equipment such as the new XDS system (an electronic system which mimics the function of a mechanical limited slip differential), ABS and TCS, ESP with EBA emergency braking, low tyre-pressure warning, driver and passenger airbags, side airbag and head airbag, climate control, cornering foglights, trip computer, cruise control and sports suspension, among others.
New Ibiza FR – high-tech pocket rocket with razor sharp looks
The FR version of the new generation Ibiza introduces several technical highlights compared with the previous model, which combine to provide a more intense driving experience. First and foremost, the compact hot hatch is equipped with a state-of-the-art 150 PS twincharger 1.4 TSI engine. This means that this relatively small capacity powerplant is able to deliver big-engine performance through the fitment of both a supercharger and a turbocharger – a first in the supermini class.
Thanks to its latest generation technology, this engine provides greater flexibility, punchy performance and lower fuel consumption figures and emissions levels, while fully complying with EU5 emissions legislation.
The high-tech theme doesn't stop there. The Ibiza FR's powerful engine is mated to a latest generation seven-speed DSG gearbox with steering wheel shift paddles fitted as standard. As on the Cupra version, the gearbox has been developed with more driver-focussed software than on the 1.6 version of the Ibiza.
Furthermore, the addition of the XDS system provides greater driver confidence and safety. As with the Leon Cupra, this electronic system works together with ESP, improving the car's performance when traction is lost by braking the wheel that loses grip.
The Ibiza FR benefits from its own styling enhancements quite separate to either the Ibiza Cupra or other models in the Ibiza range. Highlights include new bumpers that lend a purposeful appearance, featuring front honeycomb slats and a chrome surround for the central grille in combination with the Arrow Design concept. Other tell-tale exterior elements are silver-coloured door mirror cases, exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels and twin tailpipes.
The interior also conveys the car's racing nature with a specific instrument display carrying the 'FR' (which stands for Formula Racing) logo, a new steering wheel with built-in DSG shift paddles and the seat design, whose upholstery also heavily contributes to its sporty looks.
As far as standard equipment goes, SEAT's new car is further equipped with ESP, TCS + EBA, ABS, Hill Hold Control, low tyre-pressure warning, driver and passenger airbags, head-chest airbag, trip computer, cruise control, climate control, sports suspension and cornering foglights, among other features.