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Seat’s Ibiza hot hatches: gallery

  1. Though slightly overshadowed by the quietly excellent Jim Diamond and his hit number one single I Should Have Known Better, Seat will remember 1984 for one big reason. It was the year of the Ibiza.

    Yep, it was in 1984 that the company’s best-selling model to date was born, drawing together some of the automotive industry’s powerhouses. This first generation Ibiza was built on the old Seat Ronda (you must Google its boxy brilliance immediately), styled by design legend Giorgio Giugiaro and Italdesign, and with Karmann and Porsche on hand to help with industrialisation and technology for the engine.

    We’re told its introduction ‘revitalised’ the Zona Franca production line in Barcelona, which is all very honourable, but it took four years for the company to build out a hot production Ibiza, which - because you’re reading Top Gear - is where our journey through the Ibiza’s hot hatch journey must begin…

  2. Seat Ibiza SXI - first generation

    So here we go, the first ever ‘hot’ Ibiza, and the precursor to the Cupra of today. The SXI featured a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine developed in cohorts with Porsche (yes, really) producing a nice, round 100bhp (at 5,900rpm) powering the front wheels, with a five-speed manual gearbox thrown in for good measure too.

    There was independent suspension all round, though the rear did feature leaf springs. Still, this SXI was a proper featherweight: 935kg means it weighed less than a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento (though of course, it does concede some 462bhp, but who’s counting?).

    No word on a 0-62mph time, but it topped out at a heady 114mph.

    A later ‘Sport Line’ version of that Porsche-tuned engine came in at 110bhp.

  3. Seat Ibiza GTI - second generation

    The second generation Ibiza arrived on the scene in 1993, developed within the VW Group, and featuring a grand total of six engine choices, of which the first GTI-badged model is of interest.

    Unveiled in 1994, the GTI packed 130bhp from its 1.8-litre 16v four-cylinder engine, and instantly became the most powerful Ibiza ever built.

    But not for long…

  4. Seat Ibiza Cupra - second generation

    …because in 1996, Seat introduced the first ever Cupra, short for ‘Cup Racing’, which was to set the foundation for a raft of future hot hatchery from the Spanish brand.

    This Cupra featured a 2.0-litre 16v four-pot engine producing a decent 150bhp, enough to drag those front wheels from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds and onto a top speed of 134mph. Not too shabby, you’ll agree.

  5. Seat Ibiza Kit Car

    Though not strictly a production variant, the Cupra was actually built to celebrate Seat’s victory in the FIA World 2.0-litre engine Rally Championship in 1996. They’d go on to win in this series again in 1997 and 1998.

  6. Seat Ibiza Cupra R - second generation

    The second generation Cupra got a few styling tweaks in 1999, but just one year later, to coincide with the brand’s 50th anniversary, the new Cupra was revealed. This time, out went the 2.0-litre engine, and in came a 1.8-litre turbo producing 156bhp. It also came with ESP too.

    But in the same year, Seat would build a limited edition version of this car to celebrate six years of competing in world rally events. Dubbed the Cupra R, it was the first mass-produced Seat to be developed by the company’s motorsport division.

    There was more power, specifically, 180bhp and 173lb ft of torque. There was a five-speed manual gearbox. There were two driven wheels at the front. And there was a 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds. It would also top out at 140mph, making it the fastest production Ibiza of the day.

    Just 200 Cupra Rs were built, each weighing just 1119kg each. Barely heavier than a heavily packed sandwich.

  7. Seat Ibiza FR/Cupra - third generation

    The third generation Cupra arrived in 2001, designed by Walter de Silva, showcasing the brand’s new ‘Agile Chassis’ concept, with the ‘Formula Racing’ (FR) version coming in 2004. This new FR was available with either a 130bhp 1.9-litre TDI diesel engine, or a 150bhp 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol.

    The third-generation Cupra meanwhile, now got a 160bhp 1.9-litre diesel engine, along with that familiar 180bhp, 20V petrol engine.

  8. Seat Bocanegra concept

    Not exactly a production model (that would come later), but one that teased what design influences the fourth Ibiza would take. They were good, no thanks to Luc Donckerwolke, because he designed it. And no mention of Luc Donckerwolke is allowed on this website without reference to his former life as Lamborghini’s chief designer (he did the Murcielago and Gallardo, so you owe him your allegiance).

    Unveiled at the 2008 Geneva show, this concept Bocanegra (Spanish for ‘black mouth’) was a feisty little bugger, with a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine producing 140bhp, channeled through VW’s seven-speed DSG gearbox to the front wheels.

    Looked excellent, too.

  9. Seat Ibiza Cupra SC - fourth generation

    Of course, no car has ever entered production looking like its concept, and so was the case with the fourth generation Ibiza. But, the new Cupra ‘SportCoupe’ (read: three door) arrived in 2009 with that same 180bhp/DSG drivetrain as the Bocanegra concept, to hit a 140mph top speed.

  10. Seat Ibiza FR

    The FR versions were launched shortly afterwards, with either a 150bhp 1.4-litre TSI engine, or a 143bhp FR diesel engine. Both Cupra and FR versions came with a self-locking electronic diff and bixenon headlights too.

    Then along came a facelift for the Ibiza in 2012, while the Cupra got a few tweaks to its dynamics in 2013.

  11. Seat Ibiza Cabrio

    And finally, a word on the Ibiza Cabrio. It’s not fast, it’s not advanced and it’s not even a hatch. But it’s a funny-looking concept car built in 1986, and Top Gear desperately wants to drive it. Immediately. Just look at its lil’ face!

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