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Balearic beauty. Image by Kyle Fortune.

Balearic beauty
SEAT introduces its new SportCoupé Ibiza; just don't call it a three-door.

   



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| First drive | Barcelona, Spain | SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé |

The car industry is guilty of over-complicating things in the interests of individuality. SEAT's new SportCoupé is a fine example of exactly that, this new Ibiza derivative merely the three-door version of the five-door hatchback: a smart suited three-door admittedly, but still really just a three-door hatchback however rakish its lines.

In the Metal

Of all of SEAT's recent designs there's no arguing that the SportCoupé encapsulates the firms' edgy style to the greatest effect. The bold feature lines that converge towards the centre on the SportCoupé's flanks really work here, the rear detail tapering out to a strong shoulder line that runs right around to the boot. The frontal styling is identical to its five-door relative, which means a strong face, but all those converging lines do make for some rather interesting panel gaps - the one between the bonnet and front wing being fairly large.

Around the back the taillights are unique to the SportCoupé, though from some angles there are more than a few hints to Vauxhall's Astra and Corsa three-door models thanks to that prominent shoulder line. As a complete package though it's certainly a very appealing shape, which looks fantastic in some of the wilder colours SEAT is introducing with its three-door model.

What you get for your Money

It's difficult to say with any conviction as to exactly what UK SEAT buyers will be getting for their money, as prices have yet to be confirmed. What is certain is that SEAT is poised to offer generous equipment across the entire model range. Every SportCoupé comes with electric windows, remote central locking, a six-speaker MP3 compatible CD stereo with column-mounted controls and an aux-in socket, and as many airbags as you could ever possibly want or hopefully never need. Optional equipment includes Bluetooth telephone integration, bi-xenon headlights, cornering lights, USB connectivity and a new seven-speed DSG twin clutch gearbox - depending on the engine choice. Three petrol engines of 1.2-, 1.4- and 1.6-litre capacities will introduce the line-up in the UK, with diesels joining them later.

Driving it

Two different chassis set ups are offered with the SportCoupé. You can choose Comfort or Sport, Comfort being the default option. The stiffer, more focussed Sport set-up is available at no extra cost. Comfort does such a decent job in every situation it's difficult to see why you'd want to compromise its fine ride quality for the slightly reduced body roll the Sport equipped car offers. We'd save the stiffer suspension for the future FR and Cupra flagship sporting models. The SportCoupé rides neatly and its steering is nicely weighted, though not loaded with feel. The chassis, which will underpin the forthcoming Volkswagen Polo, shows real promise for the more sporting models, but SEAT reigns in your enthusiasm with a rather over-active ESP system.

The other factor that lessens your keenness behind the wheel is the engines. None of them feel particularly lively, not even the 1.6, which with just 103bhp isn't exactly over-endowed in the power department. They all need working pretty hard and that's to the detriment of refinement. The 1.9 TDI, (not yet confirmed for the UK) is particularly noisy, sending vibrations right through the car. On the left-hand drive launch cars the pedals were seriously offset to the centre of the car, meaning your leg is pressed against the centre console, while turning the ignition key is a knuckle-scraping activity unless you pull the moveable steering column out a fair bit.

Worth Noting

The interior plastics you touch are largely of good quality; the neat stereo, cool instrument cowl and chunky steering wheel all look and feel great. There are some areas where it's possible to see where SEAT has saved money on materials, but overall the interior is a smart environment. A few notable neat touches include the optional dock for fixing your TomTom satnav on top of the dash, SEAT already working with other aftermarket satnav manufacturers to allow customers to use other systems. Similarly there's proper iPod integration on offer too. Space is decent inside, the boot big enough for most, while the rear seats are fine for children and flexible adults - the latter only for shorter trips.

Summary

With an already youthful audience for the outgoing SEAT Ibiza the firm has pitched the new SportCoupé perfectly at its target market. Pricing promises to be keen, while neat touches like that satnav dock and the ability to plug in iPods and the like is sure to appeal. It looks great inside and out too. There are some niggles though: the engines could be more powerful and more refined too, even if the economy and emissions figures are good. An impressive, appealing choice for those looking for a stylish run-around, the new SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé is on sale in the UK from October, following its public debut at the British International Motor Show.

Kyle Fortune - 3 Jul 2008



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2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.



2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by SEAT.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by SEAT.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 






 

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