A niche hot hatch
Stereo volume adjusts randomly.
Main beam and brake light bulbs keep blowing.
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