Top 5: SEAT Cupra Hot Hatchbacks

16th May 2018

If you didn't already know, Cupra was the name given to the range-topping high-performance models in the SEAT range. Cupra actually stands for 'Cup Racing' and is a nod to SEAT's success in motorsport.

The Cupra name was first used by SEAT in 1996, yet in 2018, SEAT have decided to make Cupra a standalone performance brand all on its own, signalling the end of SEAT Cupra models. We thought this would be a good time to reminisce about the awesome models to have worn the SEAT Cupra badge previously.

1. SEAT Ibiza Mk2 GTI Cupra Sport 16v (1996)

The Cupra name was officially born in 1996, after the Spanish car maker applied the Cupra badge to a SEAT model for the very first time. The first car to wear such a badge was a facelift SEAT Ibiza Mk2 GTI Cupra Sport 16v, that was built to commemorate the SEAT winning the world rally championship.

Naturally, the very first Cupra looked very much like a toned-down rally car for the road, available in a striking colour choice of Kiwi Green with white multi-spoke wheels for a purposeful rally look, although other colours were available, if you weren't as keen on turning heads so much. This rally car for the road came with a 2.0-litre 16v petrol engine producing 150bhp. Back in its heyday this was plenty for a serious hot hatch. It could hit 60mph in just 7.6 seconds. This gave the Cupra proper hot hatchback performance and kicked off the Cupra legacy perfectly.

Ibiza MK2

2. SEAT Ibiza Cupra Bocanegra (2009)

In 2008, SEAT launched the fourth generation SEAT Ibiza. However, it was the Bocanegra concept car shown at the 2008 International Geneva Motor Show that had fans of SEAT's Spanish hot hatches in awe. Its design gave the Ibiza an imposing presence and Cupra fans were itching for SEAT to make a production version. Those that were left lusting after the concept didn't have to wait long, as a production version was later released a year later in 2009.

The main distinguishing features of the Ibiza Cupra Bocanegra include black styling enhancements, most notably the black front bumper detail, as Bocanegra translates to 'black mouth' in Spanish. The styling also pays tribute to the original Bocanegra - the 1200 Sport from 1975. The Ibiza Cupra Bocanegra came with typical punchy Cupra performance too. Therefore, the agile little Ibiza had 178bhp, generated from its 1.4 TSI engine, good for 62mph in just 7.2 seconds.

Red Ibiza Cupra

3. SEAT Leon Cupra R 2.0 TSI 265 (2009 - 2nd generation)

The Cupra name isn't just reserved for the SEAT Ibiza. Launched in 2009, the Leon Cupra R is the first Leon model in our list and was the most powerful SEAT road car in history at the time. Boasting sharp hatchback styling, accompanied by five-door practicality (although it looked like a three-door due to clever handle positioning) the Leon was different by design.

With lower suspension, sharper styling and more performance-oriented flair, such as central twin rear exhaust set up, and of course the lairy paint and white wheel combo options available - which is a nod to the Ibiza rally car, the Leon Cupra certainly looked like a true hot hatch! The interior was just as serious as the exterior, with prominent hard backed sports SEATs, for the true race car like feel.

A 2.0-litre petrol engine with 261bhp gave the Leon Cupra R serious performance, it was the fastest SEAT ever after all. The 62mph sprint took just 6.1 seconds.

Leon Cupra

4. SEAT Leon SC Cupra 280 ‘Sub8 Performance Pack’ (2015)

The Nurburgring Nordschleife is the world's toughest race track. At just under 13-miles long it is also the longest and is a true test for car and driver alike. In 2015 SEAT broke the record for being the first manufacturer to send a front-wheel drive production car around the 'ring in under eight minutes, with a time of 7m58.4 seconds with the Leon Cupra.

At the time, this took the reign of SEAT's fastest ever production car. With a 2-litre turbo producing 276bhp, good for 62mph in just 5.8 seconds. Essentially the 'Sub8 Performance Pack' could be ordered when purchasing a Leon SC Cupra. It includes 30mm larger brakes, 19-inch wheels, new side skirts and black or orange detailing. An Ultimate Pack could be purchased too, which meant the Leon went on a further diet, shedding weight via the removal of the air-con, storage bins and the centre arm rest, amongst other initiatives.

Leon Cupra

5. SEAT Leon Cupra R (2018)

Here we have it. The last Cupra to be accompanied by a SEAT badge. Not a bad SEAT Cupra swansong as the 2018 SEAT Cupra R happens to be the most powerful road going SEAT ever, and it's also the most exclusive, with just 24 models coming to the UK. Only 799 will exist worldwide.

Power is now up to 306bhp delivered through the front wheels, via a six-speed manual gearbox, ensuring 62mph is dealt with in just 5.8 seconds. Other enhancements include a retuned exhaust system giving a lewder exhaust note, along with four piston Brembo brakes. Available in either Monsoon Grey or Midnight Black - with complementing carbon fibre detailing, and contrasting copper coloured 19-inch alloy wheels, door mirrors, SEAT and Cupra badges and front bumper detailing, too. The copper theme continues on the interior with detailing on the dash, steering wheel and stitching on the awesome bucket SEATs.

Cupra R
Fancy your very own piece of SEAT Cupra history? Take a look at our SEAT Cupra used cars for a quality selection of hot hatchback Cupra heroes available today.