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The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.8

The SEAT Ibiza Cupra Bocanegra gets a dash more Spanish style with a black coloured nose. Its engine may be small, but the performance is mighty. However the lack of a manual gearbox limits appeal.

Reasons to buy

  • Performance
  • Sharp handling
  • Characterful styling

How good does it look? 3/5

The SEAT Cupra Bocanegra is based on the distinctive SC three-door version of the Ibiza. Bespoke Cupra modifications over the standard car include more sporting bumpers, 17-inch alloy wheels and a centrally mounted exhaust. The Bocanegra stands out even more with its darkened face and graphite alloy wheels. It’s distinctive, but not as striking as its Renaultsport Clio 200 rival.

What's the interior like? 3/5

The interior design is attractive, but the quality of the plastics is not up to the car’s high price. The stereo is exceptionally complicated to operate.

How practical is it? 4/5

The Ibiza’s front sports seats are very supportive. Both steering wheel and seats are multi-adjustable, so all drivers will be able to get comfortable. There is just about enough room for two in the back, however rear legroom is limited and headroom is lacking due to the curving roofline. Boot space is impressive at 284 litres, and the avaiable area can be expanded further by taking advantage of the split and folding rear seat.

What's it like to drive? 4/5

The Ibiza Cupra Bocanegra is fitted with lowered, stiffened suspension, which virtually eliminates body roll whilst providing plenty of grip. The ride on the 17-inch alloy wheels is surprisingly good for a sports hatch. A sophisticated electronic differential ensures there’s plenty of traction, and none of the engine’s 180bhp is wheelspun away under hard acceleration. It’s a shame then that the steering spoils the overall package. It lacks feel and rivals from MINI and Renault are more fun to drive.

How powerful is it? 4/5

The Ibiza Cupra Bocanegra is powered by the same 1.4-litre TSI four-cylinder, turbocharged and supercharged engine found in the Skoda Fabia vRS and the Volkswagen Polo GTi. It’s surprisingly powerful considering its size, but it sounds coarse and has to be worked hard to extract the best from it. The Ibiza Cupra is only available with a slick-shifting, seven-speed, twin-clutch DSG gearbox. Drivers can use either the gear selector lever or steering wheel mounted paddles to change gear. While the gear selctor gives a slick change, it often feels as though the gearbox change down too many gears.

How much will it cost me? 4/5

The Ibiza Cupra Bocanegra is capable of impressive 44mpg average fuel economy. The equivalent MINI and Renault models average 48.7mpg and 34.4mpg respectively. The SEAT’s servicing costs and parts prices should also be competitive.

How reliable is it? 4/5

SEAT has a good reliability record and the engine has also been proven in other performance Volkswagen and Audi models.

How safe is it? 4/5

The Ibiza comes with a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating. Twin front and side airbags are fitted along with electronic stability programme (ESP) and uprated brakes. Curtain airbags are available as an option.

How much equipment do I get? 4/5

The Ibiza Cupra Bocanegra is well equipped with everything you would expect of a car of this performance level. Cruise control, climate control, electric mirrors, electric windows and remote central locking are all standard. Quilted sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium pedals and Cupra logos are also fitted.

Why buy? 4/5

The Ibiza Cupra Bocanegra is an interesting addition to this sector of the market, with its eager fuel-efficient engine and sharp looks. The lack of a manual gearbox limits driving fun though.