| Week at the Wheel | SEAT Ibiza Bocanegra |
Inside & Out:
Bocanegra means 'black mouth' in Spanish, which is a fitting name for the Ibiza with a jet-black face. Combined with the white paintwork of the car you see in the pictures, the Bocanegra has one of the most noticeable and feline faces on the road.
You're made aware that this is more than your average Ibiza by the myriad of subtle but neat touches in the cockpit. Bright red cross-stitching on the seats and matching needlework on the flat-bottomed steering wheel, a red 'B' emblem embossed on the seats and etched into the bottom of the steering wheel, glossy black carbon fibre touches and red piping along the mats is just enough to make the SEAT stand out.
The excess of black plastic and plain Volkswagen Group switchgear make it quite a dark place to sit though, and, while rear legroom isn't bad, it's far from the class best.
Engine & Transmission:
The Ibiza is yet another Volkswagen Group car that has been fitted with a TSI engine with a turbocharger and a supercharger to counteract any turbo lag. The 1.4-litre version is plenty for the Ibiza with 178bhp. That's enough for 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds and 140mph. With figures like that, it's no slouch for a small hatch, and it really does accelerate with tremendous gusto.
A DSG seven-speed automatic gearbox is standard issue with TSI engines and it works well. There's a short delay between pulling the wheel-mounted paddle back and the cogs actually changing, but the gearbox makes up for its shortcoming by automatically blipping the throttle on the down-change, which results in a rather pleasant rumble from the tailpipe.
Ride & Handling:
Grip is not something that the Bocanegra is short of. It clings to bends very well indeed and SEAT's XDS system keeps the front wheels in check by acting like a limited slip differential - it automatically applies the brakes to the wheel with the least grip, which sends the engine's output to the other tyre for maximum overall traction.
The ride and steering let it down though, as the SEAT is pretty bumpy on anything but smooth tarmac. The steering, while responsive enough, doesn't offer the same level of engaging feedback as anything wearing a RenaultSport badge that costs either close to or less than the Bocanegra. It's not bad, but you can find better for less.
Equipment, Economy & Value for Money:
At £17,720, the Ibiza looks quite pricey. Again, it's not terrible value, but you can find more entertaining hot hatches for less outlay. It makes up for that with a good standard kit list though - climate and cruise control, metallic paintwork and 17-inch anthracite alloys are just some of the standard goodies.
Claimed economy of 44.8mpg and emissions of 148g/km are impressive for a performance car. The SEAT is a genuine alternative to a diesel powered hot hatch if you just can't bring yourself to switch to the black stuff. Granted, you won't see anywhere near that figure when you're caning it, but those kind of running costs make the Ibiza a sensible ownership prospect and easy to live with every day.
The SEAT Bocanegra is a sound little hot hatch, but, as we mentioned, it lacks the flair of rivals like the RenaultSport Clio
, which starts at over a grand less in Cup trim. You'll pay more to run the Clio and it's likely that the Skoda will more robust than the Renault.
The Bocanegra may be the sensible option, but it's stylish and powerful enough to be fun when you want it to be. It's neither the cheapest, nor the most thrilling small, hot hatch, but it's certainly one of the most handsome and one of the easiest to live with.