2005 Seat Ibiza Cupra TDi 1.9 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland


A niche hot hatch


Stereo volume adjusts randomly.

Main beam and brake light bulbs keep blowing.

General Comments:

I bought this car at 3 years old, but with nearly 60K covered. I was impressed when I viewed the car, with how well it had coped with the first years of its life, and how tight it still felt. I guess credit back to the VW engineering and parts bin.

I choose the Cupra TDi, as I wanted a fun car for my daily commute that would be cheap to buy (second hand) and maintain. The TDi suited me best as I’m not a thrashy driver and enjoy using a cars torque more than its top end.

The Cupra TDi is fantastic on the motorway, pulling with purpose even at 80-90mph in top gear. Lower gear thrashing (up to its max, about 4.5-5K rpm) is pleasing enough. But in 1st and 2nd you struggle to achieve real control and grip as the car fails to successfully cope with that torque. It is still fun though, just not sophisticated and ultimately prevents me from drag races at the lights (which is a good thing).

I’ve read comments which suggest the ride setup is ‘sporty’. However, anyone who has driven truly accomplished hot hatches would agree that the Ibiza’s ride is harsh and unforgiving. Suspension is tightened up so body roll is minimal, but the dynamics of the chassis and damping just create a tiring ride when the roads get rough. On winding roads the Ibiza fares only reasonably. It feels slightly heavy and I find myself adjusting mid bend. Throw it at a tight bend and the lack of suppleness in the chassis and suspension will see you skitting around the bend, almost like a go cart. A more developed package would absorb mid bend bumps and maintain grip. This said, as I do 90% motorway driving this doesn’t bother me, and instead I get to benefit from the cars good high speed stability and balance on long sweeping bends.

Running on from the ride, the car's refinement is far from class leading. It’s loud around town and on the motorway. The old TDi lump is a noisy one, and the low and hard suspension send vibrations and clanks into the cabin. Tyre roar is high too. I guess all these aspects are fair enough for a small hot hatch. Spec is pretty good, Climate control, ESP and 4x Airbags are standard. It’s a shame the car doesn’t come with the auto wipers, auto dimming rear view mirror and steering wheel controls that are on lesser models.

The fuel economy is pretty good as you’d expect. A ridiculously sedate motorway run can see nearly 55mpg. However, I have averaged 47mpg over the past 8K miles of motorway driving. Town runs are about 38-45mpg.

Although subjective, I really like the looks of the Cupra, it’s a bit boyracerish, but then that is the market, and I think it works well. The interior has a few sporty touches, the seats, gear level and steering wheel, along with the black headlining. They are all nice touches, but the overall impact of the interior is that it’s dull and adorned with cheap and hard plastic. This is of no concern to me, having bought the car for less than half the new price, but at new to have spent the thick end of £15K?

This a niche hot hatch. Not the best at the basic job of hot hatchery, but does offer a unique blend of fuel economy, thrashability and high speed thump.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd January, 2009

8th Jun 2010, 11:40

Hi, I too have a Seat Ibiza Cupra TDi. Only had it about 3-4 months, and have noticed the fan kicks in about 1 minute or something after the engine switches on from being cold. Do you know anyone with same car who has experienced this problem? I know there is warning by the engine telling you that it kicks in at any time, but I never noticed it when I first got the car in Feb/March. Have you had yours remapped, because mines booked for a remap with celtictuning.co.uk; had a Pug 306 HDi done by them a while back.

Any ideas about the above? Cheers!

2005 Seat Ibiza Cupra TDI 1.9 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland


Fast, frugal, crashy ride, budget interior, boy-racered :-( yet still stealthy enough


Nothing but wear and tear.

Clutch needed to be replaced after 17,000 miles of chipped use.

Pothole killed one alloy/tyre, and the alloy design is practically poor (sticks out beyond the tyre)

Front tyres wear on inside badly (common VAG issue) and were really worn out at 14k miles on a 1" band, but still looked good from the kerbside until 18k miles (Dual carriage commute, so not tearing around)

Replaced disks and pads on rear at 18k miles due to rust; this was already going wrong at the 18 months/6k miles I bought the car at.

General Comments:

Chipped to 215hp/312 ftlbs by Star Performance.

Can do 50mpg, but really 43-45mpg is more likely on open roads, 1-2 mpg more with Shell fuel. Push it and 38mpg more likely. Stay below 2000 rpm for max economy. The 130 non Cupra diesel is far more economic for some reason; it will do 55mpg and can be chipped to standard Cupra power.

Interior is cheap, plastics scratchy/poor. The black cloth marks easily and shows the dirt. Working on the dash is hard as it is one piece (DIY cruise control fitted). Boot carpet marks easily, but it does hide a full sized spare which is nice. Boot/rear legroom is actually bigger than a 2002 Golf!

Headlights are really poor; really should upgrade, but my dual carriageway commute means it does not really matter.

Brakes OK, but actual think the Golf 1 piston big brakes are easier to modulate compared to these AP 4 pot, and the front brakes limit what wheels fit and mean the alloys stick out. Back brake pad design is poor, so they tend to rust up; I use the handbrake gently to keep them clear.

Ride is harsh/crashy, Handling is not great, but road holding is pretty good.

Fast, reasonably economic, stealthy Q-car to most, not bad compromise, just wish you could have got leather inside with VW plastics.

Hard to find one, and seems to keep its value more than other cars.

The Cupra extras are a bit Max Power (red brake callipers, which are flawed in design as the Seat designer did not understand brakes!), wheels that are compromised by those brakes! But you do get better seats, but you lose the multifunction steering wheel for some more red trimmed black leather.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 9th December, 2007